PARRIS ISLAND, SC, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- With summer right around the corner, Marines have their minds on several things – liberty, the beach, more liberty – but the one thing that nobody can afford to overlook during this time is the danger inherent to hot weather.
Marines and sailors have a responsibility to remain aware of the heat conditions and warning signs that could lead to a heat casualty.
Depot Order 6200.2O, Heat Injury Prevention Program, outlines the use of solid colored flags throughout Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to help Marines decide what precautions to take during hot weather.
“The flag system across base is a very useful way to help keep Marines safe from going down due to heat injuries,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Bryan Wolfinger, hospital corpsman, Branch Health Clinic MCRD Parris Island. “It’s easy to understand. All you have to do is pay attention to the flags.”
There are four flag conditions and each comes with precautions of its own. The flags are placed at key locations throughout the base. They can be found outside of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Weapons and Field Training Battalion and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Recruit Training Battalions.
A green flag means the outside temperature is 75.0 to 84.9 degrees and personnel who are not acclimated to the area require supervision during heavy exercise.
A yellow flag means the outside temperature is 85.0 to 87.9 degrees and all strenuous activity should be suspended and personnel who are not acclimated to the area require supervision during heavy exercise. Outdoor classes should be cancelled or moved indoors.
A red flag means the outside temperature is 88.0 to 89.9 degrees and all physical training or strenuous activity should cease for personnel who have not trained and lived at Parris Island for at least 12 weeks.
A black flag means the outside temperature is 90.0 degrees or more, requiring all nonessential physical activity for all units to be halted. However, individual permanent personnel who have acclimatized may continue individual P.T.
“Not everyone is the same,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Kelly Richardson, hospital corpsman, Branch Health Clinic, MCRD Parris Island. “So it’s important for people to recognize their level of fitness before making decisions.”
The flag conditions exist to help prevent heat injuries among Marines. Heat injuries range from minor to very severe, and from minor discomfort to death.
Three heat injuries are identified in the order as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Easy ways to avoid heat injury are to have a good diet, stay hydrated with water and electrolytes and having good aerobic and anaerobic fitness,” Richardson said. “Marines are always pushing their bodies -- heat injuries occur when they’re not replacing vital substances in their bodies efficiently during strenuous activity.”
Heat cramps are caused by excessive salt and water loss and characterized by muscle spasms in the limbs or abdomen. They may be accompanied by weakness, dizziness and nausea. To relieve the symptoms of heat cramps, rest, water consumption and a gentle massage is required.
Heat exhaustion occurs due to dehydration from excessive salt and water loss and its symptoms include nausea, headaches, profuse sweating, weakness and confusion or an altered mental state.
In this case, sending for medical aid should be the first priority. The casualty should be placed in a cool shaded area lying down with their head level or slightly lower than their feet. Clothes should be removed down to the undergarments. If the casualty is conscious, give him or her small sips of water. Ice and water can also be used to cool a casualty down externally.
Heat stroke is the most severe of the injuries and can result in permanent brain damage or death. The symptoms include skin that is hot to the touch, weakness, headaches, blurred vision, confusion, unconsciousness and collapse.
Again, sending for medical aid should be the first priority. Quickly try to lower the casualty’s body temperature as much as possible by applying ice or cool water to the entire body.
“Being aware of your surroundings and staying proactive instead of reactive will prevent heat injuries,” Richardson said.
Knowing the flag conditions and how to spot and treat heat injuries are easy ways to stay safe during the hot summer months.
||PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US
This work, Temperatures rise, bring higher risks, by Cpl J Nava, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.