Thermal performance trials on the habitability of private bushfire shelters: part 1
This communication is the first of two in which specifications for private bushfire shelters were evaluated during human trials. The purpose of this investigation (series 1) was to test the hypothesis that shelters capable of maintaining the internal environment at, or below, a modified discomfort index of 39 °C would prevent a deep-body temperature elevation of >2 °C. This was tested over 96 trials during which eight men and eight women were exposed at rest (60 min) to three regulated shelter conditions satisfying that standard: 40 °C and 70 % relative humidity, 45 °C and 50 % relative humidity and 50 °C and 30 % relative humidity. Subjects were tested twice in each condition following exercise- and heat-induced dehydration (2 % body mass reduction) and pre-heating to each of two deep-body thermal states (37.5 and 38.5 °C). Participants presented well rested and euhydrated, and pre-treatments successfully achieved the thermal and hydration targets prior to exposure. Auditory canal temperatures declined as exposures commenced, with subsequent rises of >0.5 °C not evident within any trial. However, each increment in air temperature elicited a significant elevation in the respective within-trial mean auditory canal temperature (37.4, 37.7 and 37.9 °C) and heart rate (103, 116 and 122 beats.min−1) when subjects were moderately hyperthermic (all P < 0.05). Nevertheless, on average, subjects successfully defended deep-body temperature at levels significantly below those associated with heat illness, and it was concluded that this thermal specification for bushfire shelters appeared adequate, providing the physical characteristics of the internal air remained stable.
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