Health & Safety

July 26, 2012

Protect yourself this summer

Airman 1st Class Mariah Tolbert
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force Illustration/Airman 1st Class Mariah Tolbert)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – — “Everybody, hydrate!”

This is a saying that is drilled into the minds of Airmen from the day they arrive at Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

However, dehydration and other heat related injuries continue to be major issues during the summer months.

“Prevention is key,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Amy Santos, 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron superintendent. “If you wait until you are thirsty, then typically you are already dehydrated.”

Since physical fitness is part of any military career, Airmen should learn how to stay protected while working out. The 4th AMDS works to provide Airmen with proper heat advisory and flags to know what they should or shouldn’t do when the mercury rises. To ensure Airmen are aware of heat conditions, green, yellow, red and black flags are placed outside of the fitness center.

Under green flag conditions, it is okay to perform PT tests and work out outdoors. Yellow flag stops fitness testing and alerts Airmen to be cautious when working out. Red flag also stops fitness testing and suggests Airmen carry out activities with caution, and black flag means no fitness testing and no unit PT outside.

“You don’t always have to go running outside for miles to increase endurance and stamina,” said Senior Airman Jerad Perea, 4th Force Support Squadron fitness supervisor. “Circuit training increases this as well. Your body doesn’t like change, so mix it up!”

Airmen should understand symptoms of heat related illnesses that can be found in the Airman’s Manual. Along with dehydration, sunburns and heat exhaustion are also concerns on base.

“Take breaks as needed during hot conditions,” Santos said. “Know your limits and stay safe. Even, young, active and healthy Airmen are at risk for heat related conditions or illnesses. Also, use sunscreen when outdoors, the most dangerous hours for exposure to the sun’s harmful rays are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

Like all good things, balance is important.

According to Perea, a good way to track your hydration is by checking urine.

“It should have a slight yellow tint to it,” Perea said. “But if it’s dark and has an odor you are dehydrated. If it’s clear like water, you may be over hydrated.”

With the summer months here, it is important to stay hydrated, protected and knowledgeable to heat related illnesses. For more information refer to the Airman’s Manual pages 180-184 or contact your unit safety representative.

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