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Heat Stress and the Firefighter. After completing this section, the firefighter will be able to: Identify basic heat stress terms and concepts. Describe sources of heat exposure that affect firefighters. Understand the added impact of personal protective equipment on heat stress.

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heat stress and the firefighter
Heat Stress and the Firefighter

After completing this section, the firefighter will be able to:

  • Identify basic heat stress terms and concepts.
  • Describe sources of heat exposure that affect firefighters.
  • Understand the added impact of personal protective equipment on heat stress.
  • Understand the effects of heat stress on the human body.
after completing this section the firefighter will be able to
After completing this section, the firefighter will be able to:
  • Understand the role of adaptation and acclimatization to environmental conditions and how they may benefit firefighters.
  • Identify and treat the symptoms of minor heat injuries and illnesses.
  • Identify and treat the symptoms of heat exhaustion.
  • Identify and treat the symptoms heat stroke.
  • Describe various methods for avoiding heat-related injuries.
objective 1

Objective - 1

Identify basic heat stress terms and concepts.

important terms and concepts
Important Terms and Concepts
  • Environmental (ambient) temperature
  • Thermal radiation
  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Relative humidity
objective 2

Objective -2

Describe sources of heat exposure that affect firefighters.

sources of heat exposure to firefighters
Sources of Heat Exposure to Firefighters
  • Environmental Heat Exposure: This is the weather you are operating in.
  • Fire Exposure: The most critical thermal exposure faced by firefighters. Fire exposure occurs during actual fire suppression and fire rescue activities.
  • Particularly severe exposures during combustible/flammable liquid fuel and chemical fires.
long term exposure to heat
Long-Term Exposure to Heat

For the vast majority of municipal firefighters, exposure to extreme heat situations will occur in limited, short doses. There are several exceptions to this, including:

  • Career firefighters who have been involved in training exercises or repetitive calls during high temperature conditions.
  • Volunteer firefighters who work outdoor or otherwise hot atmospheric jobs and respond to fire calls after extended periods exposed to heat.
  • Wildland firefighters who operate for long periods of time in high temperature conditions and may not be able to retreat to climate-controlled facilities during down periods.
keys to understanding heat exposure hazards
Keys to Understanding Heat Exposure Hazards
  • The longer operations will take, the greater the risk of heat exposure problems
  • Monitor conditions and be proactive
  • Watch for clusters of early, minor heat problems and then react appropriately
  • Keep in mind that heat stress is cumulative; take extra care if personnel were on an earlier incident, even the previous day
objective 3

Objective - 3

Understand the added impact of personal protective equipment on heat stress.

effects of ppe on heat stress
Effects of PPE On Heat Stress
  • PPE increases thermal impact on the body
  • NFPA and OSHA mandate PPE use
  • PPE reduces heat dissipation by radiation, convection, and conduction
  • PPE must allow perspiration to be evaporated
  • Project FIRES and HEROS have had a positive impact on PPE design.
objective 4

Objective - 4

Understand the effects of heat stress on the human body.

physiological effects of heat stress
Physiological Effects of Heat Stress
  • Humans are warm-blooded
  • Body tries to maintain a normal level of heat (98ºF, on average); temperature regulation is controlled by the brain.
  • Temperature controls are activated when the body temperature deviates from the normal range.
  • The person will be impaired if body temperature drops below 95ºF; possible cardiac arrest if it increases above 105ºF.
  • An individual’s physical condition will impact how well they handle heat.
  • Heat stress and dehydration are also linked.
psychological effects of heat stress
Psychological Effects of Heat Stress
  • Heat-acclimated firefighters will not be affected as quickly as those who are not acclimated.
  • Heat stress reduces mental performance.
  • Heat stress slows reaction time and decision time.
  • Tasks that require attention to detail, concentration, and short-term memory and are not self-paced may degrade.
  • Routine tasks are done more slowly and errors of omission are more common.
  • Dehydration greater than 2% of body weight will adversely affect mental function of simple tasks.
increased risk factors for heat related illnesses
Increased Risk Factors for Heat-Related Illnesses
  • Dehydration and salt depletion
  • Lack of heat acclimatization
  • Poor physical fitness/excessive body weight
  • Skin problems (rashes, prickly heat, sunburn, and poison ivy.
  • Minor illness or fever
  • Medications, both prescription and non prescription
increased risk factors for heat related illnesses15
Increased Risk Factors for Heat-Related Illnesses
  • Chronic disease (diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases)
  • Recent alcohol use
  • Prior heat injury
  • Age
  • Highly motivated people
  • Genetics
objective 5

Objective - 5

Understand the role of adaptation and acclimatization to environmental conditions and how they may benefit firefighters.

acclimatization
Acclimatization
  • All humans are basically equipped the same way.
  • We are capable of adapting to new environments over a period of time.
  • The process of adapting to environmental extremes is often referred to as acclimatization.
  • Acclimatization is becoming more important today.
  • Departments should have a program to ensure their personnel are acclimatized
  • Personnel who are properly acclimatized will be less susceptible to heat-related problems.
objective 6

Objective - 6

Identify and treat the symptoms of minor heat injuries and illnesses.

miliaria prickly heat
Miliaria (Prickly Heat)
  • An acute inflammatory disease of the skin.
  • The sweat ducts become plugged and a rash appears.
  • Might occur after wearing personal protective clothing.
  • More annoying than debilitating.
  • Prevention can be achieved by resting in a cool place for portions of the work cycle, by bathing and drying the skin, and changing regularly into clean, dry clothes.
heat syncope
Heat Syncope
  • Usually occurs in individuals who are not accustomed to hot environments and who have usually undergone prolonged standing, usually with the knees straight and locked.
  • Heat can cause dilating of large blood vessels and pooling into the lower extremities. This result is lesser blood flow to the brain.
  • Once supine, the individual usually recovers.
  • The patient can prevent further fainting by moving around.
heat cramps
Heat Cramps
  • Excessive sweating that results in loss of electrolytes (especially sodium)
  • Cramps typically affect the voluntary muscles of the extremities and in some cases the abdominal wall (side stickers).
  • Body temperature is usually normal.
  • Heat cramps respond well to rest in a cool environment and replacement of fluids by mouth.
  • Heat cramps are early warning signs of a potentially more serious situation.
  • Saline solution (0.1%) by mouth and/or saline solution (0.9%) intravenous should be administered.
objective 7

Objective - 7

Identify and treat the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

symptoms of heat exhaustion
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
  • Fainting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headache
  • Tingling sensations in the extremities
  • Pallor (ashen color of the face)
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
treatment for heat exhaustion
Treatment for Heat Exhaustion
  • Elevate the patient's legs and remove from the heat to a cool place.
  • Water and/or salt replacement should be undertaken.
  • Replacement of fluid using intravenous methods should be used.
  • Mandatory continuous monitoring of the patient's condition in the field and evaluation of the patient's electrolyte status at a hospital.
  • Recovery from heat exhaustion is usually rapid, but immediate return to duty is not advisable.
objective 8

Objective - 8

Identify and treat the symptoms heat stroke.

signs and symptoms of heat stroke
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
  • Heat stroke victims have a high probability of permanent disability or death.
  • Results when the body's temperature regulating and cooling mechanisms are no longer functional.
  • Fainting, disorientation, excessive fatigue and other symptoms of heat exhaustion are precursors.
  • Onset of heat stroke may be rapid with sudden delirium, loss of consciousness and convulsions occurring.
  • The skin is hot, flushed and dry, although the skin may be wet and clammy in later stages of the condition when shock may be present.
signs and symptoms of heat stroke27
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
  • Rectal temperatures are elevated, frequently in excess of 106°F.
  • Pulse is full and rapid, while the systolic blood pressure may be normal or elevated and the diastolic pressure may be depressed to 60 mm Hg or lower.
  • Respirations are rapid and deep.
  • As a patient's condition worsens, symptoms of shock.
  • Incontinence, vomiting, kidney failure, pulmonary edema and cardiac arrest may follow.
treatment for heat stroke
Even if effective treatment is initiated and the patient survives the initial episode, severe relapses can occur for several days.

Lower the body's temperature as rapidly as possible.

Active cooling of heat stroke patients can reduce mortality rates from 50% to 5%.

The patient's clothing should be removed.

If cold or ice water is available, the patient should be doused with and/or immersed in the water.

Treatment for Heat Stroke
treatment for heat stroke29
Treatment for Heat Stroke
  • Cover the nude patient with a cotton sheet, continuously douse it with water and fan them.
  • Apply cold packs to the carotid arteries.
  • Place legs in a shock recovery position.
  • Transport to a hospital as soon as possible.
  • Normal saline (0.9%) should be cautiously administered intravenously.
  • Oxygen should be administered if cyanosis, pulmonary congestion, or breathing difficulty is present.
objective 9

Objective - 9

Describe various methods for avoiding heat-related injuries.

the impact of physical condition
The Impact of Physical Condition
  • The risk of heat injury is much higher in overweight, unfit firefighters than in fit ones.
  • Physical fitness programs designed to develop both cardiovascular and muscular fitness can be of great benefit in reducing heat casualties, although fit firefighters will have their limits as well.
acclimatization32
Acclimatization
  • Produces increased effectiveness of the sweating mechanism
  • Coordinate physical fitness or acclimatization training with physicians.
  • A firefighter experiencing symptoms must not be forced beyond his capacity or heat injury may result.
  • Drills and exercise should be carefully monitored when Apparent Temperature exceeds 90°F and modified or suspended when Apparent Temperature exceeds 105°F.
  • If turnout clothing is worn, an adjustment factor of 10°F should be added to the environmental temperature before the Apparent Temperature is calculated.
proper hydration
Proper Hydration
  • The most critical factor in prevention of heat injury.
  • Water must be replaced, both during exercise periods and at emergency scenes.
  • Thirst should not be relied upon to stimulate drinking.
  • Cool water and cups must be readily available at both exercise areas and emergency scenes and drinking encouraged.