you can beat the heat
By the time you start sweating, you may already
be dehydrated, as PTE John Wellfare reports.
after strenuous activity or exercise, especially in
the summer months.
ABPH Kade Rogers
ADF provides some detailed documentation covering the identifi
cation and management of heat illness, or hyperthermia (not
to be confused with hypothermia, which is cold illness).
The information provided here has been taken directly from
ADF First Aid doctrine.
how to deal with heat illness, according to the experts,
is all about understanding how the body’s own cooling system
works. The human body has a number of built-in methods for
reducing heat, of which evaporation from sweating is one.
Others include breathing out warm air and radiation of heat
through the skin. Heat illness occurs when these systems
fail, or don’t perform adequately.
Hot and humid climatic conditions.
Working in poorly ventilated environments.
Wearing heavy, dark coloured clothing on hot days.
Being confined to a small, poorly ventilated space.
Wearing constrictive individual protective equipment.
manual identifies four different levels of heat illness:
A person faints in a hot environment and there is no other identifi
Muscular cramps after physical exertion, while internal body temperature
may be normal. Heat exhaustion: Moderately elevated body temperature.
Casualty is pale, sweating and thirsty.
A very high body temperature, which leads to unconsciousness and
focus on heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
As with all injuries, the first step in the treatment process should
always be the DRABC basic first aid principles.
key warning sign is a change in mental state.
If someone becomes confused or disorientated, they are at increased
risk of heat stroke.
People who display changes in behaviour or mental state should have
their activity stopped and be immediately cooled until their mental
state returns to normal.
for the treatment of heat and cold illness can be found in the Defence
Safety Manual, volume 2 part 1, which is available on the DEFWEB
under departmental manuals.
provides information for supervisors and commanders on prevention
of heat illness and management of training and activity in hot environments.
most common form of heat illness is heat exhaustion. It is caused
by fluid loss from sweating, usually through physical exertion without
adequate fl uid replacement.
A reduction in body fluids means a reduction in blood volume, which
ultimately means less blood gets to the vital organs, so the casualty
suffers a mild form of shock.
Exhaustion and weakness.
headache and faintness.
Nausea and vomiting.
Rapid breathing and shortness of breath.
Weak, rapid pulse.
Skin may be cool to touch.
Move casualty into the shade with circulating air.
Loosen or remove unnecessary cloths.
Sponge with water.
fluids to drink.
Apply cold packs to the groin and armpits.
Seek medical assistance if casualty vomits or doesn’t recover
Heatstroke is a potentially lifethreatening condition – 50-70
per cent of people who suffer heatstroke and are not treated
Heatstroke occurs when water levels in the body become so
low that sweating stops and therefore the body’s natural cooling
system fails completely.
Vital organs, including the brain, begin to overheat and fail.
Signs and symptoms
temperature of 40°C or more.
Hot, flushed and dry skin, but the casualty may still be sweating.
Agitation and mental confusion.
and visual disturbances.
Initially a pounding rapid pulse, which gradually weakens.
Altered mental state, which may progress to seizures and unconsciousness.
Move the casualty to a cool area and remove almost all clothing.
cold packs to the neck, groin and armpits.
If possible, cover the casualty with a wet sheet and fan to
increase air circulation.
If unconscious, place the casualty in the lateral position.
If there is no pulse or breathing, start CPR and keep cooling.
Seek urgent medical assistance.
Evacuate as soon as possible.