Archive for July 9, 2014

Managing Sleep Routines as a Firefighter

One of the tricky things about being a firefighter can be the shifts and working at times when your body expects you to be asleep. Learning to manage an unusual sleep routine is crucial as not only can this have a dangerous effect on your work, it can also have long-term effects on your health in other areas.

“Biological clock human” by NoNameGYassineMrabetTalk Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Effects of Shift Work

Studies have shown that people who work hours outside of the ‘normal’ working day can face problems with sleepiness and fatigue. This can result in poor concentration, accidents and errors as well as injuries and this is all accentuated when dealing with a dangerous job like firefighting. According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are also at risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease due to either their sleep pattern or their eating pattern.

According to data in the Sleep in America poll, 14% of Americans do shift work and it does have a clear impact on certain areas of the cycle. They are 30% more likes to have excessive daytime sleepiness versus 18% for non-shift workers and 61% more likely to have insomnia versus 30%.

Excessive sleepiness

One of the most commonly reported symptoms of a disruptive sleep pattern is excessive sleepiness. This is where people aren’t adapted to their different sleep routine and experience periods of insomnia when they should be sleeping and drowsiness when they are awake.

When you are due to be awake, take short naps on breaks to help alleviate the drowsiness. Work with others on your shift to keep active during your shift when you aren’t busy to help maintain alertness and if you don’t nap during your breaks, go for a little walk or other activity to stimulate wakefulness.

Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can serve a purpose to help keep awake but need to be used carefully. Use in the middle of the shift but not too near the end when you are planning to go to sleep as it takes quite a long time for the effects of caffeine to wear off. This means it can still be keeping you awake when you want to be asleep.

Sleep tips

There are a few basic ideas to keep in mind to help deal with this. Make sure your bed is comfortable – if the mattress is getting a little lumpy in places consider getting one of the best mattress toppers to make it more comfortable.

When you are sleeping, use eye patches or a similar blackout item to keep out the light and make sure the room is as dark as possible. Use ear plugs if there is noise around you that you cannot ignore.

As mentioned, keep away from coffee and other caffeine drinks near bedtime and another tip is to keep away from alcohol. While it may have an initial benefit to falling asleep, within a short time, your body gets used to it and it ceases to have any affect – it can end up keeping you asleep.

Another tip is to have a warm bath just before bed to relax your body and avoid doing anything strenuous just before bedtime, as this will get your body into an alert state, not a sleep one.

Fire Safety – Prepping for an Emergency

In theory it always sounds nice and professional to tell others that they should always have a fire safety plan in chance of a fire. Maybe some will heed such advice and others will ignore it. The question you must answer now is do you know what to do in a fire emergency yourself? After reading this information, you should know for certain.

kropekk_pl / Pixabay

Before you accomplish any task it is imperative that you prepare and make a plan. If there were to be a fire at your home or work place then the first thing you need to know at all times is where you are and how to get to each and every potential fire exit. It is vital to never forget that smoke will come from a fire and smoke is blinding to the eyes and it will fill in every place it can get to whether it’s in rooms, closets and hallways. In an abrupt fire emergency you will more than likely have to crawl on your hands and knees depending on how severe the fire is, so having a plan can be the difference between life and death.

If the possibility ever arises where smoke is visible to you or you actually see a fire but the building’s fire alarm hasn’t gone off, you will need to personally pull the fire alarm near the exit yourself. Once you have sounded the alarm you need to be sure you get yourself out of the building immediately. Make sure you know the emergency contact number(s) beforehand and be sure to call them right away just as soon as you are safely out of the building.  It’s also a good idea to make sure that you don’t have anything sitting on the ground, especially big objects like fishing kayaks or even bigger objects like tandem kayaks.

As a quick reminder, the procedure for discovering fire or seeing smoke is to get out of the area while being sure that all doors behind you are shut, set off the nearest fire alarm to the exit, shut off any types of equipment that is running (industrial, laboratory, etc. depending on where your building location is) and then get out.

If you are in a building that has elevator and stair access then be sure to take the stairs when you are leaving and never the elevator. If your location has signs posted about where you should go in case of a fire then be sure to follow their direction. Under no circumstances should you ever try to re-enter the building no matter whom or what it is for because there is no guarantee that you will get a chance to leave again.

If you have the opportunity to put out a small fire in a building then it might be worth trying (if you know what you are doing) and if the fire is too big then do not waste valuable time and just leave it.

If you are at home or the work place and someone else informs you of a fire or activates the fire alarm then you should walk to the nearest exit and avoid the elevators. If you suspect that someone is caught or stuck in the building then you must contact emergency services instantly. Again, meet at a designated area and do not try to re-enter the building.

In the event that you are trapped in smoke you need to drop to your hands and knees right away, stay low because smoke is thicker at higher positions in the air and hold your breath as much as you can while using something to filter your mouth and nose.

When trapped in a room you should close as many doors as feasible that are between yourself and the fire. Where applicable you should wet some cloth material and place is under any doors to block smoke from entering the room and if there is a window nearby then you should prepare to find a way to contact someone through it on the outside.

Finally, if someone has clothes that are on fire then you must direct and help that person get down on the ground and roll them while smothering out the flames. Of course if it is nearby then you can use water and contact emergency services as soon as possible.