Firefighters and Heat Stress: How Kestrel Instruments Provides Protection
No matter the time of year, heat stress is a health concern for firefighters of all experience levels. Monitoring heat stress levels with Kestrel Weather Meters and recognizing the symptoms of heat stress can help prevent illness, injury and even death.
A Glimpse Into the Effects of Heat Stress
Mark Hofman from Oregon State University is an athletic trainer and a Wildland Firefighter. While being trained to provide medical services to physically active individuals, Hoffman has vital insight into the seriousness of heat stress during firefighter assignments and training.
Shedding Light on Heat Stress for Firefighters on the Job
Whether it's an assigned job or training, heat stress is a top consideration. The physical exertion of fighting wildlife fires can place fire personnel in a tactical athletic category, as it takes tremendous strength, both mental and physical, to safely battle blazes without injury or heat illness.
The strength needed for fighting wildfires is no secret. For example, firefighters' gear can weigh up to 75 pounds. However, Hoffman states that "the incidence of heat-related illness is likely underreported for a variety of reasons, one of which is lack of recognition."
Gaining recognition of heat stress for firefighters can start by communicating its dangerous symptoms. This chart by the CDC gives an overview:
Recognizing the Risks
When are firefighters at the highest risk of heat stress and heat illness? On-the-job assignments and training expose firefighters to potential heat illness.
Hoffman mentions the importance of staying in shape between seasons. Since wildland firefighters are seasonal employees, returning to the job in lesser shape can pose a higher risk of heat illness and exertional heat stress.
Firefighters also wear long-sleeve shirts and long-sleeve pants on top of the tremendously heavy equipment, which are fire-resistant and retain heat.
Firefighters must train to prevent heat illness in the same way as athletes. One of the most critical and easiest ways to identify heat stress levels is closely monitoring environmental conditions with the help of Kestrel Weather Meters.
Preventing Heat Illness with Kestrel
Hoffman mentions work intensity, along with environmental monitoring, will aid in the prevention of heat illness. Kestrel Weather Meters, are the most accurate, portable and rugged meter on the market. Specifically The Kestrel 5400 Fire Weather Pro WBGT® is an all in one heat safety meter and weather station. Lightweight, waterless, and easy to use, the unit offers quick set-up with the included vane mount to become a complete weather station capable of logging weather conditions and critical heat safety information.
The Kestrel 5400FW also provides WBGT monitoring for training exercises, helping to prevent personnel injury or fatalities from heat exposure. With the use of LiNK wireless connectivity, the Fire Weather Pro WBGT with LiNK seamlessly sends current and logged weather conditions and heat safety alerts directly to your mobile device, keeping you and your crew informed, prepared and safe.