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HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
330 OLD NISKAYUNA ROAD
LATHAM, NY 12110-2224
With the summer upon us, higher temperatures and increased humidity can be an unseen hazard. Missions can suffer, vacations can be ruined, and lives can be endangered.
About 2,800 troops suffered illnesses from dehydration to heat stroke last year. That number is 50 percent higher than it was five years ago. In 2016 there were three fatalities due to heat injuries. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and can cause death or lead to permanent disability. Health impacts from heat have already cost the military as much as nearly $1 billion form 2008-2018 in lost work, retraining and medical care.
Prevention starts with training. Educating all Soldiers on prevention, recognition, and treatment of heat illness is critical. This applies to all members, to include civilians. Observing abnormal behavior during training could lead to the prevention of a serious condition becoming worse.
Some abnormal behaviors are dizziness, vomiting, headache, weakness, muscle cramps, and unsteady movement. Factors that might increase the risk of some Soldiers are: wearing body armor, failing to hydrate adequately, use of energy/caffeinated drinks, poor physical fitness, cumulative exposure to heat, a pre-existing illness, prescription drug use, age, and inadequate diet.
Steps to take to reduce the risk of heat injury are: use of the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer (WBGT) when ambient temperatures are above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, follow an effective work/rest cycle, utilize shade when resting, follow water consumption recommendations, prevent over-hydration (hyponatremia), alter training to reduce risk when possible, and monitor urine color. Remember! Thirst is NOT an effective indicator of hydration level!