We need to do everything we can to keep our service personnel safe and on mission. However, heat illness in combat and training situations is a real threat to the safety of our troops. Extreme temperatures and environmental conditions not only impact performance, but can be dangerous – even life-threatening – to soldiers and support personnel. To safely perform at the level that their positions require, measures must be taken to alleviate the impact of heat stress and heat exhaustion.
There is a Wide Range of Heat-Related Disorders
The physical requirements of troops in training and combat frequently result in heat-related disorders. These disorders are categorized as exertional heat illness (EHI). The less severe conditions include dehydration and mild heat cramps. Heat exhaustion is a more serious condition. It occurs when the body’s cardiovascular system cannot maintain the high blood flow required for both movement and sweating. This can lead to hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is caused by exposure to extreme temperatures, high humidity, medications, and excessive physical work or exercise. Hyperthermia results in abnormally high body temperature. The most serious conditions of heat stroke and hyponatremia constitute a true medical emergency. With heat stroke, the body becomes completely unable to regulate its temperature. In hyponatremia, excess water consumption depletes the victim’s sodium level, causing an imbalance to the body chemistry. Extreme cases of either can be fatal.
EHI Affects Thousands of Our Troops
Soldiers entering basic training during the hot summer months following high school are especially susceptible to heat injuries. Thus, service members receive extensive education on how to diagnose and treat EHI. Instruction includes the amount of water they should drink to remain hydrated, how to adjust hydration and work schedules based on environmental factors, and how to assess hydration levels based on urine color. Despite these guidelines, however, more than 2,500 active-duty service members suffered some form of heat-related ailment in 2016 alone. This included 401 cases of heat stroke, and 2,153 reports of “other heat illnesses”. Tragically, 2 to 3 soldiers die annually from EHI.
Breezer Mobile Cooling Supports Army Personnel by Helping Combat Heat Illness
There are important preventative measures that can be taken to ensure protection from heat illness. Soldiers should hydrate, modify activity levels when possible, increase sodium intake, and remain alert to the symptoms of heat-related illness.
At Breezer Mobile Cooling, we believe everyone deserves to be cool, especially our soldiers. Our rugged cooling products for the military community are portable, reliable, and easy to assemble. Able to quietly cool over 3,000 sq. ft. by up to 27°F, our military-grade Power Breezer is ideal for aircraft hangars, maintenance and logistics facilities, expeditionary missions, training exercises, and combat situations. The compact O2 offers the same great cooling power with a smaller foot print.