A soldier who is in good physical condition and is not injured or sick may think he
has nothing to worry about when working or marching in a hot climate. This is not so.
Even a healthy person can suffer heat injury.
a. Heat injuries usually occur during hot weather or when a person is working
near equipment that produces heat. When a person becomes hot, his body perspires.
When the water in perspiration evaporates, it absorbs some of the body's heat and thus
cools the body. Perspiration also contains salt. Salt in the body helps to regulate nerve
impulses and muscle reactions. If the water and salt lost through perspiration and other
body functions are not replaced, heat injury can result.
b. The three principal types of heat injury are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and
heat stroke. Heat stroke is also called sunstroke, heat pyrexia, and hyperthermia. Heat
cramps and heat exhaustion will prevent a person from performing his mission
effectively and can develop into heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that
can be fatal if effective measures are not taken immediately.
c. Another important consideration is the accumulative effect of heat injuries. If
a mild heat injury has occurred, the next day the soldier is more likely to sustain a more
significant heat injury. Soldiers that are operating in a high heat environment must have
adequate rest and recovery after having a heat related injury. All heat exhaustion cases
should be evaluated when the mission permits. Heat stroke is a medical emergency
and should be treated accordingly.
IDENTIFY RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH HEAT INJURY
There are several factors that make a person more likely to suffer a heat injury.
Some of these factors are discussed below.
a. Dehydration. A soldier who is not adequately replacing the water lost
through perspiration, urination, and respiration is in danger of suffering heat injury.
b. Lack of Acclimation. A newly-arrived person who has not had a sufficient
opportunity to adjust to the hot weather is more likely to suffer a heat injury than a
person who has worked in the area for several weeks.
c. Obesity. A person is more likely to have a heat injury if he is overweight.