A Hot Topic Worth Repeating

Just like last year Summer is rounding the corner in the Northern Hemisphere.  Just like last year I am reminding you:  “To NOT stay thirsty my friends.”  Heat and Humidity, the curse of a helicopter mechanics’ workday, is coming to a hangar near you. Summer is on the horizon, and these 12 weeks show up with TOT (Total Outside Temp) exceedances of 100 degrees+ Fahrenheit (degrees Celsius= 37.778 degrees+). Not good in any country if you are working a field contract or in an organically air conditioned hangar — that is all hangar doors open and “Big Ass” fans repositioning the ambient air about the hangar. And as much as you would like to adjust your schedule to a cooler part of the day and you location to a cooler part of the hangar, you know that just ain’t happening. So, I figure a rerun of last year’s discussion about working in hot weather apropos. Ok? Go grab some water and continue reading!

Surviving the summer heat requires diligence and water. I know from personal experience — working an engine change during a 90 Degree September day. I didn’t keep hydrated and encountered heat cramps, followed by heat exhaustion. Trust me, my experience was painfully educational. I know of what I speak here — heat-related injuries can and will sneak up on you. So, my message here is pay attention to the warning signs which begin with heat cramps leading to heat exhaustion and, if not countered, end with heat stroke and possibly a dirt sandwich. How ‘bout let’s review the physical signs of each heat related condition, the treatment and prevention. 

HEAT CRAMPS: These show up after few hours of physical exertion in the heat.    

 Signs / Symptoms: 

           Painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs, arms or abdomen 


Get out of the heat and into a cooler area                                                                 

           Hydrate with water or a sports drink

           Stretch / massage the affected muscle


              Acclimate to the environment as gradually as time permits, so your body can adapt to the heat.

              Hydrate with water or sports drink before and during the exercise

              Wear light, loose clothing and use sunscreen.


HEAT EXHAUSTON:  This caused by loss of water and salt through excessive sweat.

Signs / Symptoms:

           Headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and cool clammy skin.


           Stop and rest

           Hydrate and get into a cool room or shade

           Loosen clothing and apply cool wet towels or pour water over the head, behind the neck and on armpits and the groin area.


See heat-cramp prevention

           Get adequate salt intake during meals to replenish sodium loss during profuse sweating.


HEAT STROKE:  This is a life-threatening, no BS condition that occurs when the body’s cooling system shuts down allowing your core temperature to rise to a dangerous level.  If ignored heat stroke can lead to death!

Signs / Symptoms:

            Red, hot and dry skin

            Rapid but weak pulse

            Rapid but shallow breathing

            Confusion, faintness, staggering, hallucinations

            Unusual agitation or coma


            Get the victim out of the sun

Remove unnecessary clothing

            Reduce body Temperature by applying water, cool air, wet sheets or ice on the neck, the groin and armpits.

            Get medical attention immediately….Yes! this is a medical emergency


            Follow the instructions for preventing heat cramps and heat exhaustion as these aliments arrive first as warning signs.

So how much is the right amount of water.  Well as your Rotor Doc I saved you the trouble of looking it up.  The following are the guidelines suggested by the medical profession: Note: 1.06 quarts = 1 liter

How much water you need depends on a lot of things and varies from person to person. For adults, the general recommendation from The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is about:

  • 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women
  • 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men 

This includes fluids from water, beverages like teas and juice, and from food. You get an average of 20 percent of your water from the foods you eat.  You might need more water than someone else. How much water you need also depends on:

  • Where you live. You will need more water in hot, humid, or dry areas. You’ll also need more water if you live in the mountains or at a high altitude.
  • Your diet. If you drink a lot of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, you might lose more water through extra urination. You will likely also need to drink more water if your diet is high in salty, spicy, or sugary foods. Or, more water is necessary if you don’t eat a lot of hydrating foods that are high in water like fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables.
  • The temperature or season. You will need more water in warmer months than cooler ones due to perspiration.
  • Your environment. If you spend more time outdoors in the sun or hot temperatures or in a heated room, you will feel thirstier sooner.
  • How active you are. If you are active during the day or walk or stand a lot, you’ll need more water than someone who’s sitting at a desk. If you exercise or do any intense activity, you will need to drink more to cover water loss.

OK, before I pull pitch on this subject remember everyone is different. Age, your physical conditioning, ambient temp, will all play a factor in your hydration level.   So, just be aware of changes you are feeling while working. And make that one for the road water!!

Doc is out!