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Heat creates challenges for first responders working outside

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Under about 45 pounds of protective gear, firefighters may find themselves in a hot situation when temperatures outside are over 100 degrees.

The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team issued a Weather Alert Day for heat indices in the 100s for Tuesday. While everyone needs to be aware of their hydration levels and staying cool in this weather, first responders working outside need to be extra careful.

Gale Blomenkamp with Boone County Fire Protection District said the gear firefighters wear makes them very hot during warm weather.

"It's meant to hold heat out when you're in a fire, so therefore it will hold heat in," Blomenkamp said. "They do not breath very well and that's the way they're designed."

Firefighters have to take precautions, as anyone working outside should, to make sure they don't overheat. Blomenkamp said drinking lots of water, taking frequent breaks and working shorter shifts outside are how the fire protection district protects its first responders.

"We do like everybody else does when it's hot and working out in these conditions," Blomenkamp said. "We have to shorten our work cycles and we have to give people the opportunity to cool down as soon as possible when we're doing tasks out there. And then, we call in more people if we need them. We can't work as long in heat like this as we normally can in cooler weather."

If you'll be outside, hydration is key to avoiding heat stroke. Drink plenty of water the day before, Blomenkamp said once you're dehydrated it's hard to catch up. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, these drinks dehydrate your body.

Some signs of heat stroke are feeling dizzy, stomach cramps, nausea and headaches. If a person stops sweating, that's when you should be concerned. Call 911 if emergency medical attention is needed.

Article Topic Follows: Weather Alert Day
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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