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News | July 29, 2019

The Heat Is On: How to keep your cool when the summer temps rise

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs

When the temperature rises, someone inevitably falls victim to a heat-related illness. But there are ways to prevent and treat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation employees on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, are attuned to the dangers of high temperatures and take extra precautions to prepare fellow personnel on center.

“During the summer months, the Safety Office monitors the temperature daily using a heat stress monitor,” said Sabrina Bryant, safety specialist, Safety and Occupational Health Division, DLA Aviation. “The monitor is a wet bulb globe temperature and it measures temperature based on an equation that uses a combination of environmental elements to calculate the reading. The calculation is a measure of the heat stress in direct sunlight that takes into account the temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover (solar radiation).”

The office also displays a heat stress card, which features heat categories ranging from one to five. “Five is the most severe (more than 90 degrees),” Bryant said. “If the temperature is between four and five, the safety office will provide the heat stress level and have it placed on the marquee at the East Gate.”

For liquid relief from summer heat, DLA buildings have ice machines, and during the work/rest cycle, industrial warehouse spaces have breakrooms that serve as designated cooling areas when employees need relief from the heat.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends two to four cups of water per hour when exercising or working outdoors. Avoid alcohol and drinks that contain large amounts of sugar. It is also important to not wait until you are thirsty to start hydrating.

“When heat stress is a level five, employees especially those working outside and in industrial warehouse places, need to ensure adherence to the work/rest cycle,” said Bryant. She also recommends adhering to the buddy systems to ensure coworkers do not succumb to heat stress.

Common signs of heat stress
Common signs of heat stress
Common signs of heat stress
Common signs of heat stress
Common signs of heat stress
Photo By: Courtesy Graphic
VIRIN: 190726-D-D0441-0006

The buddy system can also be adopted for children and pets. Never leave pets or children in cars during the summer months — the temperature of a vehicle’s interior can reach 104 degrees when the outside temperature is just 70 degrees on a sunny day. On a day when temperatures range from 80 to 100 degrees, vehicles parked in the sun can climb as high as 172 degrees.

Walking pets can also be detrimental to their health when the temperatures climb. Hot asphalt easily reaches 140 degrees and causes severe damage to the pads on animals’ paws.

Of course, making the hot weather bearable also can mean having a little fun with heat-related urban myths. The DLA Installation Management’s fire department put some myths to the test to see which were rooted in truth, and which would be proven hoaxes.

Think cookies will bake on a car’s dashboard? What about cooking eggs on a sidewalk? The fire department tested both these rumors, with less than palatable results. The cookies reached a temperature of 120 degrees and were hard on the top, but the egg dried out on the sidewalk rather than frying up into a recognizable breakfast dish.