Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Heat of Summer is Here

Just in case you haven’t noticed, we are in the summer season here… it’s important to pay attention to your environment to prevent heat stroke.

The Heat Condition Flag Warning System, determined by the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index (WBGT) reading, on the Combat Center is set up to help you determine your safe daily outdoor activities in the summer months.

The Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital also constantly monitors the “Mainside” WBGT in real time making it available on the hospital’s internet at

The WBGT index consists of a combination of readings from thermometers, providing temperatures for dry, humid and radiant heat. These three temperatures are combined in a standard formula providing a more accurate reading of heat stress intensity, known as the WBGT Index.

Safety concerns with heat and PT are very real, especially in a desert environment. Dehydration is a constant threat when exercising in the heat. Since thirst occurs too late to be a good indicator of excessive water loss from the body, be sure to weigh yourself regularly during hot weather, especially if you’re doing a lot of intense physical activity.

There is no specific temperature beyond which you should not exercise. People have become heat casualties even in subfreezing temperatures because they were overdressed. Any circumstances that cause your body’s heat production to exceed its capability to cool off will often result in heat stress.

To alert Combat Center members of hazardous heat conditions, the following flags are flown to indicate readings and control physical activity:

Green Flag – WBGT Index Temperatures range from 80-84.9 – Unrestricted physical activity may be carried out.

Yellow Flag – WBGT Index Temperatures range from 85-87.9 – Physical activity should be limited to those people who have been exercising in similar heat for a minimum of 10 days or more.

Red Flag – WBGT Index Temperatures range from 88-89.9 – Physical activity is advised only for members who have been working out in similar heat conditions for a period of 12 weeks for more.

Black Flag – WBGT Index Temperatures range 90 and above – Vigorous outdoor exercise, regardless of conditioning or heat acclimatization, is not advisable.

Combat Center members should be advised to note the flag, which is indicated on the hospital’s web site before beginning outdoor workouts on Main side in the summer months. For Camp Wilson and Ranges, check with Marine Wing Support Squadron – 374 (MWSS-374) Weather Office at 830-7809, as geographic locations on the base cause the WBGT Index to vary.

Although you do not have a choice about the characteristics of work clothing or gear, do not use a vapor barrier (rubber) suit as an aide for weight reduction while exercising. Exercising in a rubberized suit may result in severe dehydration and elevate your core body temperature. Wearing these suits also will not help you with your weight reduction program since the decrease in weight is due to a very temporary loss of fluid, not fat loss. If you are required to wear NBC gear or body armor you should add 10 points to the WBGT Index to determine your training activities.

For more information on the WBGT Index call the Hospital’s Preventive Medicine Department at 830-2029.

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