Heat exhaustion and heat illness are well-known mitigating factors to an officer or warrior’s performance, but scientific studies are proving just how damaging and, in fact, fatal it can be. The CDC reports that heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, or heatstroke occurs when high temperatures overcome the body’s natural ability to dissipate heat. This analysis also reveals that heat-related deaths are underestimated by as much as 54%. And this analysis is done on an entire population, not specifying those who are required by duty to wear body armor for protection, which increases the chance of succumbing to heat-related illness or even death.
Modern-day ballistic armor is also a thermal insulation that naturally interferes with heat conduction and convection, creating a barrier which blocks the evaporation of sweat and increases surface body temperature. But it must be worn at all times to ensure the safety of our first responders. This is a natural by-product of its effectiveness in stopping ballistic force. Because of this natural reality, our warriors and law enforcement personnel can suffer from heat illness and heat casualty far too often. This inability to transmit body heat that develops between ballistic armor and the torso causes the following detrimental effects:
- Decreased cognitive performance
- Decreased critical decision-making abilities
- Increased exhaustion
- Heat stroke/illness