NK Announces the Release of Militarized WBGT Meter – the Kestrel Digital Heat Stress Tracker

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Exertional heat illness can threaten the health of our military personnel and the operational readiness of our forces. By providing accurate measurement of WBGT and clear training guidance, the Kestrel Digital Heat Stress Tracker helps maximize performance and ensure soldier safety.

For the human body, there are few environments more debilitating and damaging than extreme heat conditions. Military units that conduct training and operations in hot climates must take particular care to monitor and adjust for heat stress conditions to prevent personnel injury and death. In 2012 the Army Active component experienced more than 1600 heat stress cases that resulted in medical attention and/or lost duty time (phc.amedd.army.mil). With heat indices on the rise worldwide, government defense departments are considering accurate heat stress measurement to be mission-critical.

Although training in hot and humid conditions is a reality of military operations, heat casualties can be prevented by following four critical steps: 1) monitor conditions; 2) acclimatize personnel; 3) modify training when necessary; and 4) have and follow an exertional heat illness (EHI) response plan. Effectively monitoring environmental conditions starts with the accurate measurement of Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), the most widely used measure of physiological heat stress in an environment. WBGT is an aggregate environmental measurement that combines the heat stress factors of ambient temperature, humidity, sunlight, radiant heat and wind into a single number that provides accurate guidance for safe hot weather activity.

Published doctrinal military heat training guidance, including Army TB-MED-507 and Navy NAVMED-5010-3, all requires the monitoring of WBGT in the training or operational environment and adjustment of activity duration and hydration in defined WBGT ranges. For such guidance to be effectively implemented, WBGT measuring equipment must be easily deployed and operated and the opportunities for measurement error must be minimal. Instruments must also withstand the rigors of the military training and operational environment so they will continue to perform as designed.

The most portable, rugged and easy to use WBGT meters available today are manufactured by Nielsen-Kellerman (NK) under the Kestrel brand. Every Kestrel WBGT meter can take a handheld waterless WBGT reading within one minute of being exposed to the environment, or can be tripod-mounted for longer-term monitoring. WBGT is displayed directly on screen without complicated setup procedures that increase the likelihood of critical measurement errors. User-settable warning zones can be implemented to trigger when WBGT passes defined thresholds, helping to ensure that personnel are aware and prepared when the chance of exertional heat stress and adverse medical events rises. Every Kestrel meter is designed to be used in rugged outdoor environments and is sealed to IP-67 standards (no ingress of water after 30 minutes at three foot submersion, dust-proof) and drop-tested from four feet as defined by MIL-STD-810G.

To answer the special requirements of the military purchaser, NK has now released a military configuration of its WBGT meter – the Kestrel Heat Stress Tracker. The Kestrel HST is desert tan in color and provided with a PALS|MOLLE compatible, Berry-compliant, heavy duty carrying bag. The Kestrel HST is also equipped with a reduced-brightness red-filtered backlight to allow night use without degradation of adapted night vision. The Kestrel HST is less than 2 inches wide by 6 inches long and weighs 7 ounces including its carrying case.

The Kestrel HST is also a full environmental weather meter, offering readings of all standard meteorological measurements including wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity, heat index, barometric pressure and altitude. This makes the Kestrel HST the ideal multi-purpose tool for hot weather military operations, allowing personnel to monitor heat conditions as well as support combat weather and drop zone operations, snipers, UAV operators, MWD handlers and CBRN specialists. The Kestrel HST can also be Bluetooth® enabled allowing communication with mobile device apps for real-time measurement viewing at distances up to 30 feet away.

At just half to one-third of the cost of other frequently purchased digital WBGT meters, the Kestrel HST is also a good value for military purchasers. Government pricing may be obtained by contacting the manufacturer or from authorized Kestrel resellers on GSA Advantage.

Kestrel meters have been proven in military operations for more than 15 years. The Kestrel HST is designed, developed, built, tested and supported by NK in the USA. NK is both a recognized leader in Lean manufacturing and process improvement and an award-winning top workplace.

For more information on preventing heat illness and injury, visit http://www.heatstress.com, NK’s free heat stress resource website produced in collaboration with the Korey Stringer Institute, dedicated to preventing sudden death in sport through education, health and safety initiatives.

-Know Your Conditions-

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Meg Keating
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