Personal Hygiene for a 24 Hour Shift
How often do you worry about your personal hygiene while on duty? If you're like me, you probably take a shower maybe an hour before you go on duty. You might possibly even brush your teeth and use some mouthwash too. But let's take a look at some of the things that can dampen your personal hygiene before going on duty.
If you live in a city department, you might go to Starbucks or McDonald's to enjoy a meal or even a cup of coffee if your department changes shift in the morning time. If your in a small town, you might even eat a small sandwich and chips before going out to dinner with your crew. How about if your shift has a set plan of dining in, you might enjoy some home cooked food that might put you on the pot all night long. These are just a few examples that can dampen with your fresh hint of mint or whatever your toothpaste has in it.
After the meal, you might begin washing dishes or start the daily chores such as daily trucks checks and equipment checks. When starting the generators and tools, such as the K-12, dirt and grease might get on your clothes and your fresh cologne will virtually disappear. By then after truck day, you might get an EMS call before starting the daily tasks such as station maintenance or inventory. While on this EMS call your patient might smell the grease and dirt from daily chores and not the smell good body wash you used prior to coming on shift. After the EMS call you get back to the station and realize that you no longer smell as good as you did this morning, what do you do?
Most departments have implemented a physical fitness plan that requires at least 30 minutes of cardio plus some strength training. After this workout you probably get another call but this time we'll use a vehicular rollover as an example. You'll dress into your turnout gear before getting on the truck, and as soon as you begin to pull out of the bay, you get cancelled. Think of all that sweat and everything else from your turnout gear and how much it effects your personal hygiene. But wait a minute, the time is 2100 and your shift captain has agreed to a rule of lights out at 2200. With a full crew of four firefighters (plus the officer) and the EMS crew, there is no time for a shower even if the crew is military trained and can take five minute showers. So you decide to go to bed smelling like sweat, smoke, and whatever you ate before shift change, and plan to get up an hour before wake up and shower.
At 0300 you get a fire alarm, which turns out to be the real deal for a commercial building, of course your first due on scene and will be in the fire before everyone else. Let's say the fire lasts for three hours and your back in the house an hour before shift change. What do you do? Do you shower? Do you clean up? Or do you begin cooking breakfast and wait until you go home before you shower? But alas you get another EMS call and your patient can tell more about your shift than you can at this point. You might even suffocate her (ok it will not be this bad), but that's the point.
In these scenarios there is hardly anytime for the entire crew to shower, but how many of these scenarios can you take the time to spray more cologne or wipe yourself off with some babywipes? After dinner, you can surely brush your teeth or even carry some altoids to share with your crew. Even if you do some of these simple things, you can improve your personal hygiene throughout the shift.
baby wipes: $2
Smelling Fresh at the end of the shift: priceless