Fighting Fires in Extreme Heat

Crews battling the Red Rock and Trailer Fires also had to combat 100 degree heat Friday. While most people would be seeking shade and donning shorts, these men and women dress in full fire gear. The basic equipment includes heavy boots, t-shirts covered by long-sleeved fire resistant shirts, and heavy flame resistant pants. They wear helmets, goggles, gloves, and a harness to carry their fire shelter water and tools.

Wearing all that gear in the blazing sun, they hike up steep terrain to get to the fire line, where you can imagine the heat is even more intense. Medical advisors say heat exhaustion is a very real possibility and it's up to the individual to stay hydrated, and take breaks. That's because their internal body temperature can quickly rise to 100 degrees or more. When a person's temperature reaches 103 degrees they can become dizzy, nauseated, confused, even fall unconscious. All are dangerous under normal circumstances, but can be deadly on a fire line.

Medic Chris Graves says to combat the onset of heat exhaustion fire fighters take regular breaks, alternate water and drinks with electrolytes to stay hydrated, and eat meals with more sodium than usual when they're back at base camp. Workers on the fire lines even have to be vigilant before they go out and when they return to make sure they are maintaining their hydration level. But if something unexpected happens, medical crews are standing by at base camp to evaluate returning firefighters and make sure they get the care they need.

Worried about exposure to extreme heat? Check out the link below.


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