Army to Soldiers: Drink Up

FORT RUCKER, AL -- More than 1,700 heat injuries occurred Army-wide in 2005 according to Brig. Gen. Michael B. Cates, commander of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM). Of those injuries, 258 people suffered from heat stroke and 1,467 suffered from heat exhaustion.

“Steps could have been taken to reduce these injuries,” said Dr. John Campbell, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center Command Surgeon.

According to an Army Technical Bulletin, “Heat Stress Control and Heat Casualty Management,” people performing routine activities should drink six to eight quarts of water a day. People in hot environments, or who perform strenuous activities, should increase to between nine to 12 quarts.

“Heat injuries can be prevented,” said Campbell. “Leaders, supervisors and soldiers must keep an eye on each other and look for the early warning signs.”

Early warning signs of heat stress include dizziness, headache, nausea, unsteady walk, weakness or fatigue, and muscle cramps.

USACHPPM cautions that over-hydration, or water intoxication, can also be harmful. Some of the symptoms include confusion, weakness and vomiting. Individuals who exhibit these symptoms but are still eating, drinking and urinating should seek emergency treatment.

Heat injury prevention is a command, leadership and personal responsibility. Proper use of composite risk management reduces the likelihood of heat injuries.

“Heat injuries and illness pose a serious threat to our Army’s force – and a loss of one of our Army team is always deeply felt,” Campbell said. “Soldiers and civilians are deployed in some of the hottest areas in the world. We want everyone to stay in the fight and continue to own the edge.”

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