NEWS | June 20, 2014

Critical Days of Summer: Some like it hot

By 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

In AFI 1-1, Airmen are reminded that the Air Force is a way of life. Airmen are on call every hour of every day:

"You must strive to be resilient: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to meet the challenges inherent to being a member of a fighting force, both in the deployed environment and at home station."

Physical preparedness (or resiliency) includes protecting yourself from the dangers of your environment; in the summer, this includes hot weather.

Being outdoors can be the best part of the summer season. "Fun in the Sun" is what many look forward to. Who hasn't worked up a lather of sweat participating in all that the outdoors has to offer? It's hard to imagine you can actually die from something as simple as getting overheated. The CDC reports there are approximately 618 heat-related deaths each year in the United States; 68 percent of which are men (based on statistics from 1999-2010).

Whether your job keeps you outside or you're outside for leisure, you are at risk of a heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. The Air Force refers to heat-related illness as thermal injury; reference AFI 91-203, 3.1.2.10 for information.

Heat illness dangers are the same regardless of your activity and can be easily mitigated when risk management steps are applied. This begins with knowing the temperature outside; how long you'll be outside; and what personal protective gear you'll need.

Heat illnesses happen when your body is unable to cool itself and your temperature rises. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can result in death.

These are some of the ways to prevent heat illness:

· Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you're not thirsty.
· Rest in the shade to cool down.
· Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
· Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
· Keep an eye on everyone with you.
· Remember these three simple words: Water, Rest, Shade. Taking these precautions can mean the difference between life and death.