AHSS flags warn service members of weather conditions

14 Jun 2011 | Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is prone to hot humid days that make everyday life seem unbearable without a cold shower every five minutes.

No matter the type of weather, there are still Marines conducting group or individual exercises, which in some cases weather can play a role on how far Marines can push themselves. One system Marines can use to ensure they don’t fall victim to heat-related injuries is the Automated Heat Stress System.

Originally created by the Navy and Marine Corps to prevent heat related injuries aboard ships due to improper insulation, steam leaks and improper ventilation, the AHSSs aboard the base have been programmed to work in an outdoor environment.

“Don’t get this confused with the heat index where it says the temperature is 90 degrees but it feels like it’s 95,” said Phil Molloy, the AHSS projects officer with Training and Operations, MCB Camp Lejeune. “The AHSS measures the dry bulb temperature, globe temperature, relative humidity and the wet bulb temperature. The result shows the heat stress on the human body.”

MCB Camp Lejeune currently has 9 AHSSs throughout the base. Building 1, the headquarters building for MCB Camp Lejeune has an AHSS near the side of the building.

The AHSS uses colored flags to inform service members of the weather conditions. The colors, in ascending order of heat conditions are blue, green, yellow, red and black. With each flag, service members are encouraged to hydrate, take more breaks and look out for their fellow Marines and sailors.

Every hour, the flag is updated to ensure that service members are receiving the most current readings the AHSS provided.

Marine Corps Order 6200.1E addresses what each flag indicates; green flag  heavy exercises, for unacclimatized personnel, conducted with caution and under constant supervision; yellow flag, strenuous exercises, such as marching at standard cadence, will be curtailed for unacclimatized troops in their first three weeks and avoid outdoor classes in the sun; red flag all physical training will be curtailed for those troops who have not become thoroughly acclimatized by at least 12 weeks. Those troops who are thoroughly acclimatized may carry on limited activity not to exceed six hours per day; black flag, all nonessential physical activity will be halted for all units.

“Just stay hydrated, and keep all your Marines hydrated as well,” said Molloy. “In my 31 years in the Corps, I’ve seen Marines who haven’t hydrated go into black flag conditions and drop like flies. So being hydrated is key.”