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Heat Casualty Care and Preparation

Exertional Heat Illness in the US Navy

Exertional heat illness (EHI) is a serious condition that can occur when the body is unable to cool itself properly after strenuous activity. EHI can be life-threatening, and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that it can be treated promptly.

The US Navy has a high rate of EHI, with an average of 1,864 cases reported each year. The most common type of EHI in the Navy is heat exhaustion, which occurs when the body loses too much water and salt through sweating. Heat stroke is a more serious condition that occurs when the body's temperature rises to dangerously high levels.

There are a number of risk factors for EHI, including:

  • Dehydration

  • Overexertion

  • Hot weather

  • High humidity

  • Certain medications

  • Medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity

The Navy has a number of programs in place to prevent EHI, including:

  • Heat acclimatization training

  • Hydration education

  • Heat stress management plans

  • Personal protective equipment

If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of EHI, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Muscle cramps

  • Weakness

  • Confusion

  • Rapid heart rate

  • High body temperature

EHI can be treated with rest, fluids, and cooling measures. In more severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

By being aware of the risks of EHI and taking steps to prevent it, you can help to keep yourself and your fellow sailors safe.

Here are some additional tips to help prevent exertional heat illness:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, even before you feel thirsty.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.

  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

  • Take breaks from strenuous activity in the heat.

  • Stay in the shade or in an air-conditioned environment whenever possible.

  • Listen to your body and stop exercising if you feel any of the signs or symptoms of EHI.

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