Heat Illness Behind Bars: The Problem with Heat Strokes in Prison
Heat stroke can affect just about anyone and can happen indoors or outdoors depending on the conditions and activity. You most often hear about heat illness in the headlines when it strikes athletes, the military, or the elderly. Recently, the news has been highlighting a lesser known but serious problem of heat-related illness incidents happening to a different population – inmates in US prisons. Over the decades, some prison systems (most notably in Texas) have drawn attention due to conditions that are too hot for inmates. Whatever the circumstances may be that led the individuals to end up behind bars, the institutions charged with overseeing the prisoners’ health should be equipped to protect them from heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
How Are Heat Strokes Happening in US Prisons?
Dozens of heat-related illnesses and several deaths occurred in Texas prison systems due to broken air conditioning units. Temperatures were reported to routinely surpass 100 degrees F, resulting in a lawsuit from several inmates in College Station, TX.
Unfortunately, these incidents happen quite frequently. From July 20-July 29, 2018, 10 incidents of heat-related illness in prison were reported throughout the state of Texas. This number includes both staff members and inmates. Prisons are now taking steps to ensure safer conditions. While one prison agreed to install air conditioning after a lawsuit, there are other measures that prison systems can take to prevent heat-related illnesses and heat stroke.
Bringing in Kestrel Weather Meters to Help Prevent Heat Illnesses
Kestrel Instruments line of Heat Stress Trackers & Meters are the most accurate devices on the market for preventing heat-related illnesses. This technology gives accurate and down-to-the-minute reading of variables such as temperature, humidity, and heat index. A large number of Kestrel DROP data loggers were recently purchased by a prison to use for ongoing environmental monitoring in multiple locations of the facility.
Kestrels can also help determine hot spots throughout prisons that might be more dangerous than other areas. For example, the chart below shows a number of heat-related illnesses and the location where it took place within the prison. There are a number of incidents that occurred in the dining halls, perhaps with heat from the oven contributing to the high temperatures in the prison.
Kestrel meters can be conveniently installed in these locations to help track temperature and humidity, therefore potentially preventing any heat-related illnesses from happening in the future. Furthermore, Kestrel weather meters log data to analyze over time. Prison officials can see trends and temperate spikes that signify dangerous conditions for both staff and inmates.
Ending Heat-Related Illnesses in Prison
The best way to end heat-related illnesses in prison is by way of prevention. While keeping a close eye on the temperature and humidity conditions within each prison, officials can take action when the environment becomes dangerous. Coupled with adequate air conditioning, Kestrel weather meters can potentially save the lives of inmates and prison staff throughout the United States. Explore our line of portable devices, convenient for nearly any area inside and outside prison walls.