It’s 95 degrees out today with a heat index of 109. The air feels like hot soup. You have 50 pounds of gear strapped to your body and head out to work a traffic accident. The roads are blocked and you’ve been out there for a couple of hours. You have felt pretty thirsty, but you keep directing traffic; after all, the safety of other motorists depends on you doing your job. Another 30 minutes pass and you are pouring sweat and feeling a little light-headed. You keep at it. Suddenly, your knees hit the ground. There is an emergency. You are the emergency.
Being a police officer means being on your feet outside almost the entire day. You may get a brief reprieve from the heat during a lunch break in a restaurant, while stepping inside a citizen’s house to take a report (although that is no guarantee of a reprieve), working on reports back at the station, or blasting the air conditioner inside your patrol car, but a large part of your time is working out in the elements. Police officers work in snow, rain, sleet, hail, tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, etc. Admittedly, they work exceptionally hard during these natural disasters.
So, what do police officers do when it’s scorching hot outside? When people are calling in for an ambulance because of heat exhaustion? When the air seems hazy rising up off the lava-like parking lots and roadways?
Here are some ways to deal with the heat when you’re outside all day.
- Hydration is absolutely essential to stay healthy and functioning when it’s hot outside. Police officers wear vests, heavy duty belts, scratchy, non-breathing polyester uniforms, radios, boots, etc. This is a lot of weight and a lot of heat being strapped to your body. So drink up! The Institute of Medicine recommends drinking 91 ounces of water for females and 125 ounces of water for males every day, and even more so on exceedingly hot days. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water.
- Take breaks as often as you can, even if it is just sitting in an air-conditioned patrol car for a few minutes.
- Don’t exert yourself if you don’t have to during extreme heat.
- Check in with your coworkers throughout the day to make sure everyone is taking care of their bodies.
What are some symptoms that you are reacting poorly to the heat?
- Feeling This is your body’s signal that it already doesn’t have enough hydration
- Heavy sweating
- Feeling faint, dizzy or weak
- Nausea or vomiting
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, immediately report it to your patrol supervisor. Consider it the beginnings of an emergency if you are feeling any of these symptoms and take steps to relieve the symptoms right away. Heat-related illnesses can set it quickly.
Signs that you are past reacting poorly and have a heat-induced emergency on your hands – according the CDC:
- High body temperature above 103 degrees
- Red, hot, dry or moist skin
- Strong and rapid pulse
In the case of a heat emergency, call for an ambulance immediately. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. Do not take fluids. Get to a cooler space if you can. Loosen clothing and attempt to cool down with cool cloths.
Heat isn’t something to be tough about or to try and “suck it up.” Emergencies can happen very quickly, especially with all of that gear on. Take the necessary precautions to keep yourself healthy, cool and hydrated.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.