Heat Stress Prevention for First Responders

Heat Stress Prevention for First Responders

Summer heat is tough for anyone, but firefighters, peace officers, EMTs, and paramedics are at increased risk when heat’s extreme.

First responders are outdoors for extended periods of time, often in the sun. They’re also usually wearing heavy gear such as firefighting equipment, bulletproof vests (for officers), or other bulky protective equipment.

When these factors combine with elevated temperatures, heat stress can set in quickly. So it’s important for first responders and their departments to be well-versed in both the symptoms and best measures for prevention.


Heat-Related Illnesses: A Slippery Slope

Heat stress can progress from mild to life-threatening when symptoms aren’t addressed. Here are the main stages:

  1. Heat Cramps or Rashes – Caused by increased sweating, cramps, and rashes are the first sign of stress.
  2. Heat Exhaustion – At this stage, the body is overheating as a result of excessive loss of water and salt.
  3. Heatstroke – The most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke happens when the sweating mechanism breaks down and is no longer able to cool the body. Heatstroke can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.

Signs of heat stress aren’t always obvious — brush up on the symptoms of the above conditions here.



Preventive measures can be taken by first responders themselves, as well as their crew members, supervisors, and departments. The most successful heat safety protocols are adopted department-wide and include elements such as:

  • Hydration – Staying hydrated is the most important tactic for preventing heat illness. Although first responders know the importance of hydration, it can easily be forgotten in the middle of emergency situations. Water should be made accessible at all times to first responder crews, with the encouragement to hydrate well and often.
  • Knowing the signs – It’s important that both supervisors and team members know the signs of heat stress, both to self-monitor and to look out for their colleagues. Implementing a buddy system where partner pairs observe each other for signs of heat stress is also a good idea.
  • Rest breaks – Rest periods are essential to ensure that workers can hydrate and cool down. They should occur more frequently when temperatures, humidity, or sunshine increases, when air is stagnant, during especially taxing work, and when workers are wearing protective clothing or gear.
  • Cooling station – Especially when emergency calls are extended, a temporary set up where responders can retreat and take a rest is important. For instance, some fire stations supply their crews with trailers with a large fan and a mister; some have air-conditioned “rehab trucks” for firefighters on extended calls.
  • Training – Before the hot weather begins, employers should provide heat stress training to all workers and supervisors so they’re better prepared. When possible, training should cover conditions specific to that work site or area.
  • Heat alert program – When extreme heat is forecast, it’s important for employers and supervisors to implement a heat alert program, and ensure their workforce is safe and on the lookout.
  • Acclimatization – First responders can become acclimatized to working in hot environments, gradually increasing their physical stamina and sweating proficiency. Acclimatization is achieved through evidence-based training programs provided by employers.
  • Fitness — The risk of heat stress increases with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, lack of physical fitness, and certain medications. All the more reason for first responders to improve their diet and exercise where they can.


Finally, although not a factor in heat illness per se, extensive sun exposure over time increases skin cancer risk. A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that skin cancer risk in firefighters is greater than in the general population. Wearing (sweat-proof) sunscreen should be a daily habit.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.



Surviving Extreme Heat, Heat Exhaustion, & More

Surviving Extreme Heat, Heat Exhaustion, & More

Its summertime and temperatures are quickly on the rise!

Extreme heat is more than an inconvenience though; it is a health hazard. It’s extremely important that we do all that we can to avoid overheating and that we all know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses like:

Heat Cramps

These are muscular pain or spasms in the leg or abdomen – often the first sign of trouble. Getting a person to a cooler place and hydrating them with water or sports drinks usually alleviates them.


Heat Exhaustion

This is much more severe with symptoms of:

    • Cool moist pale, ashen or flushed skin
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Weakness
    • Exhaustion

Treatment includes moving to a cooler place with circulating air, remove or loosen clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Spraying a person with water helps as well as giving small amounts of fluids such as water, fruit juice, milk or sports drinks. If symptoms persist, call medical help immediately


Heat Stroke

This is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees); hot, red skin; rapid and strong pulse; confusion, and possible unconsciousness. Immediately:

    • Call 911
    • Move the person to a cooler place
    • Cool them with water by immersing them or spraying them
    • Cover them with ice packs or bags of ice

Children and Pets are at Risk

Don’t forget your precious cargo when the weather heats up. We think that it will never happen to our families, unfortunately, each year an average of 37 children and many hundreds of pets die from being left in hot cars. The majority is the result of a parent or caregiver who forgot the child or pet was in the vehicle. Even on a 70-degree day, the inside temperature can climb to a dangerous 110 degrees.

New technology and apps are being developed to warn parents of a child left in a car or truck, and the 2017 GMC Acadia will be the first vehicle with a built-in sensor that alerts drivers to check the back seat for children or pets left in the car. Until these are tested and more readily available, safety groups have mounted campaigns to prevent child heatstroke danger with these warning tips:

    • Never leave a child or pet in an unattended vehicle
    • Keep vehicles locked so children can’t climb in
    • Always check the back seat before leaving the vehicle
    • Place a stuffed toy in the car seat when it’s unoccupied and move it to the front seat as a visible reminder when you put a child in the seat
    • Put a purse, briefcase or other important items in the back seat with your infant or young child
    • Alert childcare facilities to notify you if your child fails to show up
    • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a vehicle and take action if you see they are in distress or unresponsive (break a window and remove them to a cool place and wait for emergency responders)

Personal Safety

When extremely hot weather hits, these are things you can do to alleviate the danger:

    • Drink plenty of water and rehydrating sports drinks
    • Avoid strenuous work during the heat of the day
    • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing
    • Stay indoors as much as possible
    • Never leave children or pets in a vehicle
    • Go to a basement or lowest floor of a house or building if there is no air conditioning
    • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in cool public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, malls, and other community facilities
    • Spend time at a community pool or water park
    • Check on family, friends, and neighbors (especially the very young or old) who do not have air conditioning

Home Prep

Ready.gov has an extensive list of recommendations to help keep your home cool when the temperature rises:

    • Install window air conditioners snugly and insulate them
    • Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation
    • Install temporary window reflectors (such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard) to reflect heat back outside
    • Cover windows that receive direct sunlight with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers
    • Keep storm windows up

Automobile Prep

Your car takes a beating in extreme heat. It’s a good reminder to:

    • Test your battery
    • Check your fluids – oil, coolant, and wiper fluid
    • Get your air conditioning serviced
    • Inspect all hoses and belts for cracks or tears
    • Carry extra water or coolant



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or www.calcas.com.

14 Quick and Easy Summer Snacks

14 Quick and Easy Summer Snacks

This summer, the last thing you want to do is spend time in a hot kitchen, so don’t! Prep a quick snack that you can eat all throughout the week and into those lazy summer weekends.

Here are 14 snacks that are quick, easy, and are light on your stomach- perfect for those 100+ degree days.


1. Lemonade Popsicles


quick and easy summer snacks


2. Beach Bum Chex Mix


summer snack ideas



3. Mini Italian Skewers


summer snack ideas




4. Chunky Monkey Banana Bites



quick summer snacks




5. Pie Crust Chips & Fruit Salsa


Easy Summer Snacks




6. Veggie Pizza


Easy summer snacks




7. Banana Split Bites


quick and easy summer snacks




8. Sour Candy Grapes


summer recipes




9. Everything Bagel Cucumber Bites


easy summer snacks




10. Fresh Fruit Pops


summer recipes




11. Tortilla Pinwheels


summer snacks




12. Choco Taco


summer recipes




13. Peanut Energy Bites


easy snack ideas


14. Apple Slice Cookies


summer snack ideas



Head over to our Pinterest board “Quick Summer Snacks” for more ideas! Don’t forget to give us a follow at California Casualty to stay up to date on every new recipe idea we discover! Scan our Pincode with your Pinterest camera to follow:





This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. California Casualty does not own any of the photos in this post, all are sourced to their original owners. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Emergency Preparedness During a Pandemic

Emergency Preparedness During a Pandemic

Emergency preparedness will help you and your family stay safe in the event of a disaster. House fires, flash flooding, and natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time, and as we move into summer- hurricane and wildfire season, the risk for an emergency is even greater.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely changed the way we interact with others- and will for the foreseeable future. That’s why it’s important to take action now to make sure you and your family are prepared for an emergency situation, while still taking the proper precautions to avoid COVID-19.

Here’s how to be prepared for an emergency during the middle of a pandemic.


Make a Preparedness Kit

Emergency Preparedness Kits are kits built for you and your family to have in the event of a disaster. These kits include all essential items that you would need to survive i.e. bottled water, toilet paper, copies of important documents, medication, food, chargers, hygiene items, etc.

The Red Cross recommends that during COVID-19, you should assemble two different emergency kits for you and your family.

Stay-At-Home Kit- This kit should include 2 weeks of emergency supplies. In the event that you or your family are exposed to the virus and you have to self-quarantine you should have everything that you would need to survive for 2 weeks without leaving your home.

Evacuation Kit- This kit should include 3 days of supplies in a “go bag”. It should hold all of your basic needs, yet be lightweight and easy to grab/carry in the event of an emergency evacuation. It is recommended that you have enough supplies for 72 hours. This also includes supplies for your health and safety in large crowds i.e. face masks, sanitizer, alcohol wipes, etc.

The Red Cross also recommends that each kit should have a 1 month supply of prescription medication along with fever-reducing medicine and cough suppressants.


Other Disaster Planning Tips

Making a disaster plan during a pandemic requires planning ahead, because of the need for social distancing. In the event of a natural disaster, sheltering in large buildings like school gyms and community centers may no longer be an option, and you will have to seek shelter elsewhere.

Here are some tips, the Red Cross recommends, to help you and your family develop a disaster plan.

    • Register for emergency alerts
    • Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 advice and restrictions for your state
    • Have an evacuation transportation plan
    • Have a safe destination set for your family to meet, if you become separated
    • Research open lodging (campgrounds, hotels, shelters) and their restrictions, in the event of an evacuation
    • Keep enough PPE, disinfectant, and medicine in your emergency kit for your family
    • Do not stay with friends or family who have been exposed to COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms, or are at a higher risk of developing the virus
    • If you think you have COVID-19 or have been exposed- self-quarantine, keep your distance (if possible), and contact your doctor as soon as you are safe and able.

For more tips click here.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety

Summer is almost here and that means so is bicycle season! Before your child straps on their helmet and takes off down the sidewalk, give yourself peace of mind knowing they are safe by educating them on Bicycle Safety.

Key Bicycle Safety TIPS:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Avoid night riding
  • No loose clothing
  • Check your tires & brakes
  • Don’t ride in bad weather
  • Look at for cars
  • Follow the rules of the road
  • Always be on the lookout for hazards
  • NEVER drive distracted


Save our free Bicycle Safety printable below to give to your children or hang up next to their bike gear as a visual reminder that they can always refer back to.

Bicycle Safety for kdis

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


Speaking to Your Students About COVID-19

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.


The “discussion.”  It’s inevitable. Kids are going to want to talk about Coronavirus-COVID19 (if they haven’t asked you already).  This is a difficult, yet important, discussion. So, where do we start the conversation?    

The good news- There’s no right or wrong way to approach this topic.  However, if you are unsure of how to navigate this conversation, you may find these tips to be helpful.   


Be Calm

Your kids naturally react to your emotions.  When you are calm, kids are more likely to listen to you and better understand.  


Be Available 

Allow time in your schedule simply for talking.  Tell your kids you are available if they have questions.  Try not to force conversations. When kids are having strong feelings, validate those feelings and talk about them.        


Be Prepared 

Don’t be surprised if you have to repeat information to your kids; any type of crisis can be confusing.  Kids need to find ways to feel reassured, and repetition of information can satisfy this need.  


Be Honest

Adults want to make scary situations less frightening for kids.  It’s natural. But during times of crisis and uncertainty, it is important to be honest with kids.  Provide information using age-appropriate language and concepts. Also, remind kids that not everything they read or see is an accurate representation of the truth; we must be mindful consumers of media.   


Be Sensitive

We may struggle to find the answer to the big question:  Why? Please find reliable information to help you answer this question (fact sheets from CDC).  Don’t use language that blames a group of people or assumes specific races or ethnicities contract or spread the virus.  


Be Attentive 

Know what your kids are watching and hearing on TV and online.  It’s always a good idea to limit screen time, especially during a crisis.  Too much information can be overwhelming and may cause confusion or anxiety.  Also, be aware that kids may be listening to adult conversations.  


Be Proactive

Revisit proper hygiene routines with them, like: 

        • Practicing sneezing and coughing into your elbow or tissue
        • Washing hands for 30 seconds using soap and hot water (wash before eating or touching food and after blowing nose, coughing, sneezing, or using restroom) 
        • Hand sanitizing
        • Avoiding sick people


Be Comforting

Reassure kids that they are safe in their homes.  Try to avoid making promises to kids that no one in their families or close circles will contract the virus.  Remind them that most people who become sick from COVID19 will recover.      


Be Inspiring

This is a great time to show kids how helpful people can be during times of crisis.  Even though many people have been affected by this virus, there are also many people who are reaching out to help.  Ask your kids if they’d want to help during this time. Focusing our attention on positive actions can have a tremendous effect on our well-being. 
A few ways kids can help:

        • Give blood (must be 17 years old)
        • Support your local food bank  
        • Donate money to reputable non-profits
        • Write letters or make pictures to send to doctors and nurses at local hospitals
        • Send letters or pictures to people living in residential centers (local retirement centers and nursing homes)  

One last thing to remember: kids are resilient.  The way adults respond and offer support to kids can help mitigate the potential negative emotional consequences related to this traumatic event.  Our kids will bounce back, and perhaps even grow, from this experience.    


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


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