The men and women of public safety are tough, in control, and working to put others ahead of themselves. It takes a lot of “heart” to do the job. If you wear a uniform, be aware that your risk of heart disease might be higher than the general population.
February is Heart Month – a reminder that we all need to take care of our hearts so we will be around to celebrate many more Valentine’s Days with our loved ones.
Being a first responder is one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S. Long shifts, life and death situations, and strenuous physical exertion can take a toll on the heart. A number of studies involving law enforcement officers found sudden cardiac deaths accounted for 10 percent of all on-duty police deaths in the U.S.
Cardiovascular disease was found to be the primary on-duty and lifetime mortality risk for firefighters.
The danger increased for first responders who were diabetic, overweight, smoked, used excessive alcohol and didn’t exercise.
Female officers, firefighters and EMTs also need to pay attention. Their rates of heart disease and heart attack have increased, and the Centers for Disease Control lists heart disease as the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.
While we may not be able to reduce the stress involved with public safety, there are clear steps that can cut your risk of heart disease:
- If you smoke, quit
- Improve and control cholesterol levels
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Get to a healthy weight
- Get adequate sleep
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Begin aspirin therapy
Police and fire organizations are now calling for mandatory medical exams, wellness and fitness requirements and annual physical fitness performance evaluations. They also recommend that individuals buddy-up and create workout groups, walking clubs and other physical challenges in for their departments.
Law enforcement officers can find heart-healthy tips at https://www.officer.com/command-hq/supplies-services/healthcare/article/20998653/heart-disease-and-law-enforcement.
Firefighters can go to https://healthy-firefighter.org/.
The words “incomprehensible,” “terrible,” and “devastation like we’ve never seen or imagined” continue to be used to describe the impact of the fires that ravaged and changed the face of Santa Rosa and areas of Sonoma and Napa counties in October. The images of the wind-blown firestorm are seared into our consciousness.
In the aftermath, vast acreage was blackened and trailer parks, hotels and neighborhoods were decimated – leaving our hearts heavy for those who lost family, friends or their homes.
It would have been much worse if not for the heroes who saved countless lives and property. During the firestorm, first responders stood tall as the fury unfolded around them. They made valiant runs into choking smoke and pitch dark conditions to rouse and rescue those caught off-guard, guiding and carrying the infirmed or confused as the relentless inferno consumed everything in its way. They are an inspiration to us all.
Most of those in uniform say they were just doing their job; helping others at their own peril, even while their homes and property were threatened.
As the smoke clears and the damage assessed, we want to thank all the first responders and volunteers who made a difference for so many.
Please join California Casualty in expressing our sincere gratitude to the hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTS and others who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our community. To all our heroes, we appreciate and thank you!
Life as a firefighter, police officer, or paramedic can be stressful and dangerous. Not to mention the long hours and hectic duties, so how do you have time to take care of yourself? Here are five easy ways to make time for self-care and focus on you.
- Get enough sleep. First responders are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders. So getting enough hours of sleep helps your body recover and keeps you mentally focused.
- Exercise regularly. Even though the job includes a lot of moving, lifting, and face paced action, try to set aside a regular time every day. Find a strength and cardio workout that works best for you.
- Drink plenty of water. Enough water intake isn’t only going to give you energy for the day, but help with your cognitive function.
- Keep a balanced diet. The key to staying healthy is keeping a balanced diet. Switch out processed foods for fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stop smoking. Continued smoking takes a toll on your cardiovascular health, and it will keep you from performing at your best.
Start making a change to better your lifestyle, improve job performance, and most importantly your physical and mental health.
Policing can be a different story for each rural and urban city. Due to large populations in cities, crime rates tend to be higher versus the countryside, so are we comparing apples to oranges?
Studies show that 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban or suburban areas, yet small towns remain attractive to nearly 45 million people. Some say that because of their jobs, families, lifestyle, choosing to live outside the busy urban areas, that the interest of raising a family in a smaller community will be less vulnerable to higher crimes. But did you know that police departments within these rural areas face challenges different from the urban sectors such as:
- Lack of backup back up officers
- Meeting friends, relatives, and neighbors at crime scenes as victims, suspects, and witnesses
- Limited peer interaction
As for urban policing, crime is going to occur almost 54 percent more (and growing) than in rural areas. Urban environments commonly have more crimes, like homicide and assault whereas crimes in rural settings tend to be offenses related to agriculture.
These statistics are not to say that policing in one area is better than another, but to show us how different life as an officer across the country can be. All police officers risk their lives for the safety of their communities and for that we can be grateful!
Being a police officer, especially in today’s times, is a very demanding job and with each daily demand comes to an attitude that can build negatively after a while. We have some ideas to help change your mindset about how you feel at your job in law enforcement.
A positive attitude can make all the difference in a stressful environment. It’s easier said than done, but having a negative attitude for long periods of times will cause more damage. The right approach can also have a lot of benefits you may not realize.
- Lowers depression
- Lower distress
- Better coping skills in stressful situations
- Increased life span
Try these tips we have to help start a new outlook on being a peace officer.
Work to keep positive attitude daily. This is going to take practice, but soon it will make a difference. Start your shift with positive self-talk then repeat positive comments to yourself throughout your day.
Set achievable goals. Take a minute to make a list of what you want in life. Include what those goals are that include your family, work, and life in general. Writing these out and seeing them on paper can help take those first steps to achieving your goals.
Start with daily goals. What do you want to accomplish each day? Next, what about one-year goals? Finally, what do you want to see done in 5 years?
By putting all of these tips into practice, your outlook about the job will change. You will discover a new perspective and find the passion of being a peace officer again.
Coffee and donuts are a cliché associated with cops. But much like surgeons and pilots, officers are needed for their immediate detailed focus and alertness. The lack of either can make a difference between success and failure, life and death.
Along with physical fitness and mental health mindfulness being the largest factors of law enforcement success, hydration must be a daily choice. We all have our vices, like coffee and sweets, but water will give the most benefit, especially if you’re sweating all the time. Replenish, replenish, and replenish. Dehydration not only causes fatigue, but can lower blood pressure, weaken joints, dry mouth, dizziness, and headaches. It’s time to know that it’s something to take seriously and just how important it is to your job safety, and the safety of others.
Hydration improves not only your mental health and physical performance, but also your decision-making skills, brain function, and attention span.
On an average day, men need to drink about 13 cups of water and women 9 cups. Or another way to see it is, drink half your body weight in ounces. If it sounds like a lot, we have ideas on ways into tricking yourself to drink more water.
- Sneak water into your morning routine: If you drink coffee in the morning as soon as you wake up, then drink a glass of water right before your coffee. Studies say to do it in the same space in the same routine.
- Get a water bottle. Get a goal. : First, find a new larger water bottle to carry with you. Next, grab a marker and draw lines across to make as time goals. (See picture). This will create a challenge to see how much you need to drink by a particular time of the day. Bonus: you can also get friends to do this with you too.
- Make it a game: If you friends just got new water bottles too, turn it into a match. Try this. The last person to finish their water bottle by lunch time buys lunch.
- Add water flavors: If water sounds gross or not a craving, add some water flavors to it. It’s another great way to trick yourself to drink water, especially if it doesn’t taste like water.
What ways can you sneak water into your daily routine? Do you know a co-worker or friend who would take the water challenge with you? How about just adding some flavor packets to the water bottle? We can all have a donut and coffees, but first a glass of water.