Health & Safety

May 10, 2013

When it comes to weather, don’t sweat it – be smart

1st Lt. VANESSA AVELAR and Tech. Sgt. KEITH SUE
56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron

workrestchart
It’s not called “The Valley of the Sun” for no reason. With a very mild winter, summers are hot in Arizona and can take a person by surprise.

There are three types of heat conditions people need to be aware of so steps can be taken to avoid them. If not prepared to work or exercise outdoors, one can suffer from cramps, exhaustion or stroke. Heat exhaustion precedes heat stroke, which is the most serious of the heat conditions.
Unless treated promptly, it could result in death or brain damage.

Certain precautions must be taken to prevent heat-related illness at work and home.

The first and foremost safety measure is drinking plenty of fluids (water or sport drinks) a few hours before and during heavy work or exercise performed outdoors. Eating a balanced meal, avoiding caffeine and taking adequate rest breaks while working is most important. The 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering office performs measurements on Luke Air Force Base during the summer using the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer to determine the most effective work/rest cycles.

The WBGT reading, which is a measurement of ambient temperature including the effect of relative humidity, is often confused with the heat index. The WBGT takes humidity, direct sunlight and ambient temperature into consideration as well. These measurements require special monitoring equipment owned and operated by the BE office. The WBGT is read four times a day at a minimum from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays May 1 to Oct. 30. The times and dates may be extended based upon weather conditions.

BE uses conditions instead of flags to clearly distinguish between the different workloads and work/rest cycles. This information is given to the Luke AFB Command Post and disseminated to everyone on base through the AtHoc notification system, much in the same way that FPCON notifications are made. This information will also be available at the 56th Medical Group Web page (http://www.luke.af.mil/units/56thmedicalgroup.asp) and 56th AMDS/SGPB Sharepoint site. Supervisors will determine the type of work their workers are performing and implement the work/rest cycles with the provided information.

For more information concerning heat-related illnesses, call Public Health at (623) 856-6176. For more information related to heat conditions, call BE at (623) 856-7521.




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