Cooling Hyperthermic Firefighters by Immersing Forearms and Hands in 10°C and 20°C Water
Authors: Giesbrecht, Gordon G.; Jamieson, Christopher; Cahill, Farrell
Source: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Volume 78, Number 6, June 2007 , pp. 561-567(7)
Publisher: Aerospace Medical Association
Abstract:Giesbrecht GG, Jamieson C, Cahill F. Cooling hyperthermic firefighters by immersing forearms and hands in 10°C and 20°C water. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:561–567.
Introduction: Firefighters experience significant heat stress while working with heavy gear in a hot, humid environment. This study compared the cooling effectiveness of immersing the forearms and hands in 10 and 20°C water. Methods: Six men (33 ± 10 yr; 180 ± 4 cm; 78 ± 9 kg; 19 ± 5% body fat) wore firefighter ‘turn-out gear’ (heavy clothing and breathing apparatus weighing 27 kg) in a protocol including three 20-min exercise bouts (step test, 78 W, 40°C air, 40% RH) each followed by a 20-min rest/cooling (21°C air); i.e., 60 min of exercise, 60 min of cooling. Turn-out gear was removed during rest/cooling periods and subjects either rested (Control), immersed their hands in 10 or 20°C water (H-10, H-20), or immersed their hands and forearms in 10 or 20°C water (HF-10, HF-20). Results: In 20°C water, hand immersion did not reduce core temperature compared with Control; however, including forearm immersion decreased core temperature below Control values after both the second and final exercise periods (p < 0.001). In 10°C water, adding forearm with hand immersion produced a lower core temperature (0.8°C above baseline) than all other conditions (1.1 to 1.4°C above baseline) after the final exercise period (p < 0.001). Sweat loss during Control (1458 g) was greater than all active cooling protocols (1146 g) (p < 0.001), which were not different from each other. Discussion: Hand and forearm immersion in cool water is simple, reduces heat strain, and may increase work performance in a hot, humid environment. With 20°C water, forearms should be immersed with the hands to be effective. At lower water temperatures, forearm and/or hand immersion will be effective, although forearm immersion will decrease core temperature further.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2007
- The peer-reviewed monthly journal, Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine (ASEM) provides contact with physicians, life scientists, bioengineers, and medical specialists working in both basic medical research and in its clinical applications. It is the most used and cited journal in its field. ASEM is distributed to more than 80 nations.
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