• Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal Ardrey
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Whether traveling Turkey or just walking around base, the rising temperature means an increased risk of heat-related injuries.

Staying in the shade, wearing sunscreen, never leaving any person or creature in a parked car, and minimizing time spent outside during the hottest part of the day are habits to practice if planning on spending the day in the sun. However, according to Capt. Aylin Tanyeri, 39th Medical Operations Squadron flight medicine flight surgeon, the most important rule in high temperatures is to "hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!"

"When working or exercising in hot or humid weather, it is easy to become overheated," said Tanyeri. "Proper hydration can prevent heat-related illnesses from occurring. Your body will use the mechanism of sweating to cool itself down and to prevent your body from experiencing heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or other more serious conditions such as heat stroke."

According to Tanyeri, the best way to avoid dehydration while being active in the heat is to drink two cups of water around 30 minutes before going out into the sun. Then drink another cup of water every 20 minutes or so. She also advised that people should wear loose, breathable clothing, avoid alcohol and caffeine and supplement water intake with drinks containing salt or electrolytes.

If someone is not maintaining proper hydration they will begin to dehydrate which can lead to a myriad of health issues.

"Signs and symptoms of dehydration will differ based on how severe the dehydration," said Tanyeri. "Some symptoms include dry mouth, increased thirst, decreased urination, dry skin, constipation, lightheadedness and/or headaches. Many bathrooms are equipped with urine color charts to assist in assessing hydration status to prevent the onset of any of the above symptoms. Your urine should be light-colored. If it is dark or concentrated, you may be dehydrated."

One concern with becoming dehydrated is that it can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion are fatigue, nausea, muscle aches or cramps, headaches, increased body temperature, weakness or dizziness. Heat stoke has many of the same symptoms of heat exhaustion only with the added symptoms of vomiting, mental confusion, racing heart rate, severe headache or lack of sweating. Heat stroke is also a lot more serious and required immediate medical attention. Heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke but a person can also succumb to heat stroke suddenly and without any symptoms of heat exhaustion, according to Tanyeri. She went on to give the following advice on how to help someone suffering from heat exhaustion.

"Anyone with suspected heat exhaustion should immediately be relocated to a cool, shady place and clothing should be loosened," advised Tanyeri. "If the patient is dizzy or lightheaded, lay them down. If available, apply cold compresses and if conscious, give small sips of cold water. Cool the person's body with a fan, spray, washcloth or anything else available. Contact medical emergency services as soon as possible, especially if symptoms worsen or if there is any reason to suspect heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention and treatment!"

With the rising temperatures people should also be mindful about leaving their children or pets in vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even in shade or with the window cracked, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels. After only 10 minutes the temperature inside a closed vehicle can raise nearly 20 degrees. After an hour the temperature inside the vehicle can raise to be more than 40 percent hotter than that outside. This is especially dangerous to animals or young children who are at an increased risk of heat related injuries.

To assist in keeping all personnel aware of the current temperature and any risks associated with it, the Air Force has created a five category system to inform Airmen of how long they should work in the heat before taking a rest to cool down. These categories can also be indicated with a colored flag, and are also known as flag conditions.

The heat categories/flag conditions are as follows:

Heat Category 1/White flag (78 to 81.9) - Normal activity for people accustomed to climate; extremely intense physical exertion may cause heat stroke for people who aren't. No limits on light and moderate work; heavy work 40 minutes, rest 20 minutes.

Heat Category 2/Green flag (82 to 84.9) - Normal activity for those accustomed to the climate; people who aren't should use discretion in planning intense physical activity. No limit on light work; moderate work 50 minutes, rest 10; heavy work 30 minutes, rest 30.

Heat Category 3/Yellow flag (85 to 87.9) - People accustomed to the climate should use caution in planning intense physical activity; those who aren't should curtail strenuous activities. No limit on light work; moderate work 40 minutes, rest 20; heavy work 30 minutes, rest 30.

Heat Category 4/Red flag (88 to 89.9) - Those accustomed to the climate should curtail strenuous exercise and limit conditioning for periods not exceeding six hours; people who aren't should terminate all physical conditioning. No limit on light work; moderate work 30 minutes, rest 30; heavy work 20 minutes, rest 50.

Heat Category 5/Black flag (90 and above) - Light work 50 minutes, rest 10; moderate work 20 minutes, rest 40; heavy work 10 minutes, rest 50.

For questions about heat related injuries contact the 39th Air Base Wing Safety Office at 676-2968 or the 39th Medical Group at 676-6666, if it is an emergency dial 112.