MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Recent high temperatures in the Grand Strand mean Horry County firefighters are following a specific policy to keep them safe.
When temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit Horry County firefighters do not train or do other activities outside in the sun. The policy helps the firefighters avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Although the firefighters are not outside they are not always in the air condition of their stations either. A lot of their time is spent in the truck bays where they can acclimate to the heat while still being out of the sun. Spending time in the middle ground between air conditioning and full sun helps keep their bodies from being shocked when they respond to calls.
"Being in the air conditioning doesn't acclimate [us] to this temperature. It makes it worse," explained Horry County Fire Rescue Wellness Coordinator Mike Medeiros. "So we try to encourage our firefighters to periodically or even throughout the day be out in the bay."
Medeiros said firefighters work on their fitness and conditioning throughout the year, but it takes time to adjust to how their bodies react as the seasons change. He said this year the time to adjust is less than normal because temperatures are ten degrees above normal in June.
"We didn't get a chance to even prepare in the spring for our bodies to get prepared for this type of weather so soon," Medeiros said. "And because it's here so soon, we're in a situation where, you know, we're caught, I don't want to say caught off guard, but our bodies aren't catching up."
Medeiros said they are still prepared to respond. The heat just makes it harder to recover. So eating right and forcing hydration are keys to being ready for the next call.