Few occupations stress the human body to the degree experienced in the Fire Service. In an effort to overcome some environmental and thermal stressors, the Health & Safety Division is advising the importance of staying hydrated and utilizing active cooling to help overcome and prevent Heat Stress Injuries. Here are some tips to help fight these stressors: ·
Be Fit for Duty- Fit for Duty means you are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to perform the essential tasks of your work assignment in a manner that does not threaten the safety or health of oneself, co-workers, property, or the public.·
Prehydrate- Firefighters should strive to drink 1 oz of water for each pound they weigh, a day. No more than a quart (32 oz) per hour.
Hydrate– Firefighters should strive to drink a quart of water per hour during periods of work. This is best delivered in 4-8 oz increments for every 15 to 20 minutes of exertion (a full SCBA bottle).
Rehydrate– Electrolyte replacement with a sports drink (not an energy drink) if needed. Sports drinks should not totally replace water, they should merely be a component of the hydration plan. Consumption of sports drinks are only advised after drinking plenty of water. Firefighters engaged in strenuous activity while PPE structural gear can sweat out over a quart of water per hour.·
Active Cooling- Cold/wet towels (Arctic Cool instant cooling towels work great) covering the head and neck to reduce elevated body core temperatures. Forearm immersion techniques, if available, are also a great option as well as misting fans·
Crew Rotation- Incident commanders need to plan to rotate crews regularly at working incidents. Company Officers should monitor their crews with the “Look Test” and request rehab early and often during extensive operations with above 90˚F weather. High environmental temperatures can be dangerous to your body. In the range of 90˚ and 105˚F, you can experience heat cramps and exhaustion. An environmental temperature over 130˚F (Interior structure fire) often leads to heatstroke.·
Feel something, Say something: Inform your crew if you are not feeling well (dizzy, weak, disoriented, fatigued, etc..) during emergency response operations. Early medical intervention is key to surviving a heat stress injury.
-EPFD Health and Safety Division