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National Weather Service's Report on Heat Dangers

Article reprinted with permission of FAA Aviation News

Although this story started out discussing flying tips for operating in the American desert areas, it rapidly became obvious that pilots, flight crews, and passengers are heat risks wherever they operate in the summer. From the IFR pilot holding at the end of the taxiway for a clearance, to the air show pilot sitting on the taxiway waiting to perform, or to the glider pilot working a hot summer thermal, each is at risk from the heat and more importantly, from the danger of not drinking enough water. As noted in the National Weather Service's Heat Wave data, (see tables below) people are at risk for heat problems whether they are on the flight line, in their aircraft, or at home in the city. Hopefully, this article reminds all pilots of the special dangers of summer. Heat related problems can be as deadly to a pilot as the lack of oxygen. One we talk about frequently, and we even have special altitude rules specifying when oxygen must be used and by whom, but seldom do we discuss heat prob'lems and their effects on the ability of a pilot to control an aircraft in flight.

The seriousness of the danger heat poses for people is noted by the National Weather Service's Heat Wave statistic that in a normal year, about 175 Americans die as a result of summer heat. The attached Heat Wave data states, "In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died.

Heat Index/Heat Disorders  
Heat Index Possible heat disorders for people in higher risk groups
130°F or higher Heatstroke/sunstroke highly likely with continued exposure.
  Sunstroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion likely, and heat stroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
105° - 130°F
90° - 105°F Sunstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
80° - 90°F Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.


Know These Heat Disorder Symptoms
Heat Disorder Symptoms First Aid
Sunburn Redness and pain. In severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever,headaches. Ointment for mild cases if blisters appear. If breaking occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive cases should be seen by a physician.
Heat Cramps Painful spasms usually in muscles of legs and abdomen possible. Heavy sweating. Firm pressure on cramping muscles, orgentle massage to relieve spasm. Givesips of water. If nausea occurs,discontinue use.
Heat Heavy sweating, weakness, Get victim out of sun. Lay down and
Exhaustion skin cold, pale, and clammy. Pulse thready.Normal temperature possible. Fainting and vomiting. loosen clothing. Apply cool wet cloths.Fan or move victim to air conditioned room. Sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use. If vomiting continues,seek immediate medical attention.
Heat Stroke(orSunstroke) High body temperature(106'F or higher). Hot dry skin. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a severe medicalemergency. Summon medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
    Move victim to a cooler environment.Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids.

The information contained herein is meant for informational purposes only. Neither IFA, nor Paul Engstrom assume any responsibility or liability for events that occur due to actions you or others on your behalf take based on the information given in this article. You are proceeding at your own risk. It is strongly advised that you seek the opinion and advice of a qualified aviation medical examiner and appropriate medical physician for any medical needs you may have.

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