NEWS | June 13, 2014

Heat flag conditions save lives

By Airman 1st Class Brandon Lane 628th Medical Group bioenvironmental engineering technician

It's summertime, which means things are heating up!

Heat related illness is a very serious issue in Charleston. Anyone who works in a hot environment is at risk of heat stress. Heat stress symptoms can include dry skin, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and increased body temperature. You should always keep an eye out for these symptoms in your wingmen as well as yourself and be mindful of heat stress conditions. The flag conditions, and heat categories are there to help enhance awareness of potentially dangerous weather likely to cause heat stress, as well as provide basic guidance on work rest cycles and fluid consumption.

Bioenvironmental Engineering assesses these heat stress conditions for Joint Base Charleston and dictates the appropriate flag condition/heat category. A heat stress assessment combines four components: air temperature, humidity, air speed and radiant heat. The results of these measurements are used to determine one of the following flag conditions (heat stress categories): White (1), Green (2), Yellow (3), Red (4), and Black (5). It is important for you to consult the recommended work/rest cycles and water intake amounts as listed on Page 216 of the Airman's Manual, as they are determined based on these conditions.

You can also find these tables and other helpful info at http://www.charleston.af.mil/, in the right column, under "Hot Weather Safety Info."

You should schedule outside work/exercise before or after the hottest times of the day. Wear loose fitting clothes and sunblock when working outside; stay out of the sun as much as possible and use fans to create air movement whenever available.

Special attention must be taken if you are wearing chemical protective suits and/or other PPE suits, such as fire-fighters donning silver heat-resistant clothing. These suits can add about 10 or 15 degrees to the outside heat and can stress a body beyond its limits. Also, becoming acclimatized is very important if you are new to an area with a hot climate. You can become acclimatized through a schedule of increasing exposure over the course of 10 to 14 days.

During the week, Heat Stress conditions can be found easily by calling 963-0007, for Bio's "Heat Stress Hotline", or on our Twitter heat stress page, @JBChasHeatStres. On the weekends, it is best to contact the Command Post 963-8400 to find these readings.