Summer 2020 has been unlike summers in recent memory. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging and social unrest across the country, people are facing unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety. Add to this the extreme heat and the recent Colorado and California wild fires, and you have a recipe for more disorder.
Studies have indicated that summer time is typically a period of higher than average homicide rates. In fact, some of our largest cities have experienced higher than normal rates of gun violence over the last few months. Although these facts are frightening, they are not meant to scare you.
We want to alert security professionals to the fact that they have to be on high alert as we enter the final weeks of the season. Security guards, especially those who work outdoors and perform mobile patrols, must take extra precautions to protect themselves from the heat. They must also know how to help others who may be negatively impacted by the heat and smoky air.
By learning heat wave safety skills, security guards can better protect themselves, keeping them ready and able to respond to an increase in security and medical emergencies.
Tips for Protecting Yourself in Extreme Heat
The American Red Cross states that excessive heat is the leading cause of death among all other weather-related events. Heat and humidity can have devastating effects on humans and can result in very serious health concerns. As a security guard, you are responsible for the safety of those you are hired to protect. You are also responsible for keeping yourself healthy and safe so you can do your job effectively.
When you are working in excessive heat conditions, consider the following tips to keep yourself and your fellow guards safe in the heat.
Wear sunscreen and protective clothing. Too much sun can result in heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Protect your skin by wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Wear additional protective clothing such as sunglasses, hats and long sleeves. Avoid leaving any skin exposed to the sun.
Maintain proper levels of hydration. Drinking fluids regularly can help keep you hydrated and prevent heat illnesses. The sun, heat and humidity can rapidly deplete your water stores without you realizing it. Even if you are not feeling thirsty, drink water. Guards should make sure that they have ample access to water throughout the day.
Ensure there is sufficient shade and take frequent breaks. Security guards who are performing mobile patrols should make sure that they have access to shade and an air conditioned environment throughout their shift. When temperatures are reaching extreme levels, guards should be provided more breaks during a shift.
Perform patrols with a partner. In order to stay safe and help reduce the risk of a heat-related illness, security guards should work in pairs when performing patrols outdoors. The buddy system will help ensure that there is always someone to respond in the event of an emergency.
Devise a heat wave security plan. Security guard companies and their clients should have comprehensive heat wave emergency plans in place. These plans should indicate what guards should do during excessive heat and how they should handle a variety of dangerous situations.
Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
In addition to knowing how to keep yourself safe, guards should know how to identify the signs of heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses. This knowledge can not only help guards protect themselves, but it can help them intervene early when they see another person in distress, and potentially safe a life.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are three of the most common conditions that people experience during a heat wave. Cramping is usually an early sign that a person is being negatively impacted by extreme heat. Heat exhaustion is characterized by:
- Pale skin
- Moist, cool skin
If a security guard begins to experience these symptoms or notice another person showing these signs, they should take immediate steps to hydrate and cool the victim. Move indoors or to a shady, cooler location. Remove excess clothing that could be causing the person to retain heat and prevent adequate air circulation. Apply a wet towel or other cloth to help speed up the rate of cooling. Sip water or sports drink to replace fluids and electrolytes. If these measures do not help, call emergency medical professionals because it could indicate that the person is suffering from heat stroke.
Heat stroke can be a deadly condition and it requires immediate medical attention. Signs of heat stroke are more severe than heat exhaustion and can include:
- High body temperature
- Dry, red skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid pulse
- If you notice the signs of heat stroke, call 911. Then, take steps to rapidly cool down the body by putting the individual in cold or icy water or covering them with cold, wet towels or ice.
The Role of Security Guards for Businesses in 2020
Security guard services have been in high demand in recent months. If you are a security guard, you surely know that the job has become even more challenging. Protect yourself in the summer heat so you can better protect others. Following the tips above can help you avoid a heat-related illness and identify one in others.
When you need security personnel who aim higher
Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.
Off Duty Officers, Inc. provides armed and unarmed, off duty law enforcement and security personnel for both short- and long-term assignments. Contact us for an instant