Are you prepared for the Texas heat? Published Aug. 31, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- As the summer season peaks at Laughlin Air Force Base, it brings soaring temperatures and higher humidity levels, creating the perfect conditions for heat-related illnesses. Recognizing the symptoms and taking appropriate action is crucial in preventing further complications. "The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are nonspecific and typically include undue fatigue, transient ataxia (slurred speech, stumbling, falling, incoordination), dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, malaise (a general sense of being unwell), tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hyperventilation, and transient mildly impaired cognition," said Capt. Brenton Smith, 47th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron (OMRS) family medicine physician. "Core body temperature is usually 101-104 F at this point." Prevention is critical to combating heat-related illnesses. Airmen can safeguard themselves and fellow wingmen from the potential dangers of excessive heat by following a few simple guidelines. Stay Hydrated Staff Sgt. Yoonhong Min, 47th OMRS non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of bioenvironmental engineering, expresses that staying hydrated is paramount, especially during the scorching heat wave season in south Texas. "Airmen should always carry a personal water bottle with them whenever they step outside the building," said Min. "Not staying hydrated is probably the number one key contributing factor to overheating. Another factor would be not executing proper work and rest cycles." The work/rest/hydration tables below display the water needed for specific temperatures and activities; however, on average, one quart or about two standard-sized water bottles (16.9 fluid ounces) per hour is recommended. At the same time, avoid drinking more than 1.5 quarts per hour or 23 water bottles per day. Service members should also ensure they consume enough electrolytes through diet or electrolyte drinks. Dress the part Lighter clothing can offer much-needed comfort and relief from heat during off-duty hours. The luxury of wearing lighter attire may not always be feasible for military personnel engaged in operations. "Often military duties require excessive clothing, such as added body armor of security forces members," said Smith. "The work/rest/hydration tables were designed for the average service member in Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) clothing. There are adjustments to these tables for individuals who have to wear additional clothing such as body armor, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, etc." Take regular breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas Taking regular breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas is a crucial aspect of heat illness prevention. When exposed to high temperatures and intense sunlight, the body can quickly become overwhelmed, leading to heat-related illnesses. By retreating to shaded spots or air-conditioned environments, individuals can allow their bodies to cool down and recover from the heat stress. Keep an eye on Laughlin's Interactive Warning System (AtHoc) messages for temperature warnings "For those who are not accustomed to extreme heat environments, it is important to pay attention to the warnings sent out and take appropriate measures to stay safe," said Tech Sgt. Alisha Oliver, 47th Flying Training Wing NCOIC of command and control. Notifying the base community about flag conditions was recently implemented due to the excessively high temperatures experienced at Laughlin during the summer months. These notifications enable individuals to make safe choices regarding their work-to-rest ratios and water intake, ensuring they stay hydrated. "The desired impact is to improve operations for the base by reminding personnel to rest when required and stay hydrated," said Oliver. "By pushing these notifications, we hope to mitigate and prevent any heat-related injuries for personnel here." Look out for one another Monitoring one another for heat illnesses is vital to ensuring individuals' well-being and safety in hot and demanding environments. "Look for early warning signs of heat-related illnesses and immediately remove the individual from training or outside into a shaded/cool environment," said Smith. "Make sure to offer plenty of fluids and electrolytes and call for help early." As the 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign comes to a close at the end of summer season, it is imperative to continue to prioritize heat-related illness prevention. Preventing heat-related illnesses is not only a matter of well-being, but a pivotal factor in maintaining mission readiness. As temperatures rise, so does the risk to health and performance of our personnel. By prioritizing proactive measures Airmen can operate at their best in a hot and demanding environment. "When it comes to heat-related illnesses, prevention and early detection is crucial," said Smith. "The longer the service member is in heat injury/stroke, the more likely serious injury or death will occur. It is you and your fellow airman that will save each other's lives with early detection and swift response to help cool the individual."