By Shan Ogletree, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs / (FORT BENNING, Ga.)
Exercising on a hot, humid day can be dangerous, even deadly. As the climate continues to stiffen, training at Fort Benning becomes even more challenging.
For several years the Maneuver Center of Excellence has scheduled Physical Training runs and foot marches for early morning to avoid the heat. With recent spikes in Georgia morning temperatures, Dr. Scott Robinson, Chief of Preventive Health at Martin Army Community Hospital is seeing more heat injuries than normal. “This has been a record year for Fort Benning for heat strokes,” said Robinson. “We’ve had four times the heat stroke as we normally do.”
Robinson said that due to the dramatic rise in humidity at Fort Benning, it’s critical that soldiers understand the best hours of the day to condition outdoors. “If you have control of your individual workout and can choose the time of day to do it, our recommendation from Preventative Medicine is to workout from the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” said Robinson. “As that is the lowest humidity of the day combined with the lowest heat index of the day.”
In previous years, humidity in the early mornings was at an average of 82 percent and was considered a safe time for physical training . This year, that has grown more than eight percent. “Humidity greater than 90 percent at Fort Benning have been shown to be stronger associated with heat stroke and heat injury,” said Robinson. “Which makes this year particularly dangerous.”
To mitigate the risk of heat injury, soldiers should acclimate to the conditions by gradually increasing their capacity to exercise in heat. Dumping heat after a workout by submerging in ice water is also recommended in order to reduce the carryover effects of prolonged heat. If you have a workout partner, pay attention to the signs. “Watch your buddy,” said Robinson. “If your buddy seems confused, isn’t able to answer questions appropriately, they should be assumed to be a heat injury.”
Fort Benning has seen 120 heat injuries since April. There were only 59 heat injuries reported last year for the same time period.