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I have worked indoors, outdoors, all day, all night, in any weather.

Recently, my employer required me to attend an industry wide safety seminar. A big chunk of that seminar was how to protect yourself from heat illness. I was given a list of Heat Illness Susceptibility Factors:


Environmental Conditions

Personal Conditions


Does any of this sound familiar? Reenactors conduct strenuous physical activity while wearing mutiple layers of tightly fitted clothing and equipment under extremes of heat and humidity. Not only do we try to avoid it - we seek it out as a weekend activity!


Symptoms of Heat Illness


Most of this list describes the Morning After Saturday Night - but it is no laughing matter. In the US, an average of 334 people a year die from heat illness.

A 26-year-old Houston firefighter trainee collapsed and later died of heat stroke after a 4.4-mile run in April 2009. Minnesota Vikings 6-foot-4, 335 pound offensive lineman Korey Stringer died of heat stroke in 2001. The heat index that August day in Mankato, MN was near 110 degrees. Just six days prior to Stringer's death, a University of Florida freshman, Eraste Austin died after collapsing from heat stroke. 15 year old Max Gilpin collapsed after doing sprints in 94 degree heat with 32% humitdity. He was treated with ice packs and water. Even so, when he reached the hospital his body temperature was 107 degrees. He was in the hospital for three days before he died of septic shock, multiple organ failure and heat stroke.

This is a handful of examples out of literally hundreds. How many of us are as fit and conditioned as firefighters and football players?

Although dying from heat stroke is entirely authentic and period-correct, the Colonial National Historic Park management prefers that you be aware of the symptoms of heat illness, take aggressive preventive measures to prevent it, and know what to do if you see someone at risk.


Heat Illness Prevention

Heat Exhaustion

Heat Illness

Heat Stroke

When someone is exhibiting symptoms of heat illness:


Of course I offer grateful thanks to the authors of the Contract Services Administration Training Trust Fund "Course 'A2' Safety Training Course" for the safety text quoted above. The A2 course was calculated for modern industrial workers - not people whose idea of "light-colored, loose fitting" clothing is multiple layers of linen and wool under a dark wool coat, or several petticoats, a gown, and stays. Our idea of a wide-brimmed hat is usually cocked up on three sides - worthless for protection from the sun!

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