The colors of summer safety

Patrick Stone, 78th Air Base Wing recreation assistant, raises the black flag indicating outdoor heat conditions at Robins. White, green, yellow, red and black flags are used to alert those outside of the current heat index. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Patrick Stone, 78th Air Base Wing recreation assistant, raises the black flag indicating outdoor heat conditions at Robins. White, green, yellow, red and black flags are used to alert those outside of the current heat index. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Hot weather is not only uncomfortable, making people sticky with sweat - it can also be deadly.

"Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the U.S.," according to the National Weather Service.

Twenty years ago, more than 750 people died in Chicago during a heat wave. This year, the high temperatures in India caused the deaths of more than a thousand people.

Because of that, Robins takes heat warnings seriously.

The pop-ups and email alerts along with the LED and physical flags are all ways used to help spread awareness of temperatures reaching high levels.

Colored flags serve as a warning at the fitness center to remind those who are outside doing physical activity how much rest they need versus their level of activity. LED monitors are situated in break rooms on the flight line to notify those who work outside about the rising temperatures.

Robins uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to keep track of how hot it is. The WBGT uses temperature, radiant heat from the pavement, humidity and wind speed to determine the effect of heat on a person's body, said Tech. Sgt. Marty Shorter, noncom-missioned officer in charge of environmental health in Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight
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There are five stages to the flags, starting at white and ending with black, the most severe heat warning flag.

Each rise in temperature raises a new colored flag. A WBGT of less than 79.9 degrees issues no flag. Black-flag warnings are issued when the WBGT is equal to or greater than 90 degrees.

"It is different from actual temperature. It takes into account how the human body can cool itself," Shorter said.

Cooling down at the first sign of heat illness - usually cramps - is key. Two of the most important things to do in the summer are staying hydrated and listening to your body, said Shorter.

Military members coming from cooler areas are given a 10-day acclimation period to adjust to the weather here in Middle Georgia.

"Georgia is very hot. Heat stroke never just happens," Shorter said.