NORFOLK, Va. — Exposure to extreme heat can be deadly if it’s not taken seriously.
That’s why Naval Station Norfolk is taking new measures to make sure civilians and service members stay safe.
“If you were able to stay out in the heat for 30 minutes, maybe you need to limit it to 15 minutes and just rotate the people,” says safety supervisor Tod Keltner.
Around 50,000 people at any given time can be working on the base, and many have jobs that are outside.
“With the conditions like we’ve been having, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are our biggest fears for people because it can kill you,” Keltner said.
Supervisors say they are providing rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas and are monitoring water intake.
“They can say they are hydrated and maybe they’re not. I just want to ensure that they are— making sure that when I do go and check on them, they have a water source in the area,” says Chief Petty Officer Virgilio Alcozar.
In addition to monitoring time spent outside, flags are posted around the base to regulate the intensity of physical exertion in hot weather.
“A green flag means everything is pretty much good; you still need to watch when you’re outside working, but there’s probably no risk. And it goes all the way up to a black flag,” says Keltner. “A black flag means all activities have been ceased except for operational commitments.”
Naval Station Norfolk says they’ve reached black flag conditions twice this week.
"If you don’t monitor it - monitor your people to make sure that they are staying cool - then we’re going to have some injuries, which we don’t want... nobody wants [that],” says Keltner.