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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

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Camp Pendleton urges Marines and sailors to stay cool in the heat

By Cpl. Brianna Turner | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | July 17, 2013

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statistics state that the United States had 400 heat fatalities in 2011, making heat the number one killer among weather related deaths. It also showed that over a 10-year span heat was a close second to hurricanes and caused more deaths than floods.

Staying cool becomes more difficult as the temperature continues to rise with the summer sun.
Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. Sweating is the body’s natural way of preventing this, but sometimes sweating is not enough. Old age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug and alcohol use can all limit the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

Some tips for avoiding heat related incidents  are:
• Drink plenty of fluid- Drink two to four glasses of liquid a day during heavy activity in the heat. Avoid very cold drinks which may cause cramps and alcoholic beverages which will cause the body to lose more fluid.
• Replace salt and minerals- Sweating will remove a large amount of salt and minerals from the body. Replace these by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks.
• Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen- Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brim hat, which will keep the head cool. Check the sun protection factor on sunscreen, and choose one with an SPF of 15 or higher.
• Slow down- Reduce, eliminate or reschedule heavy activity to the coolest parts of the day.
• Pace yourself- Begin slowly if you are not use to working in the heat. If you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or feel faint stop all activity and get to a cool area to rest.
• Stay cool indoors- Visit an air-conditioned library  or take a cool shower to cool down.
• Use common sense- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals which will add heat to your body, never leave children or pets in a parked car, and bring your pets indoors to protect them from the sun.
Heat related illnesses include heat rash, cramps, exhaustion, and stroke. To prevent these injuries, the Marine Corps and Navy use a heat index flag system.
• Green flag: 80-84.9 degrees, heavy exercises, for un-acclimatized personnel will be conducted with caution and under constant supervision.
• Yellow flag: 85-87.9 degrees, strenuous exercises, such as marching at standard cadence, will be suspended for un-acclimatized personnel in their first 2 or 3 weeks. 
• Red flag: 88-89.9 degrees, all physical training will be halted for those who have not become thoroughly acclimatized by at least 12 weeks of living and working in the area.  Those who are thoroughly acclimatized may carry on limited activity not to exceed 6 hours per day.
• Black flag: all strenuous non-essential outdoor physical activity will be halted for all units. 

For more information on heat injuries visit,, or read the Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton order 6200.4, heat injury prevention.