It is important that firefighters are physically and mentally prepared for the job at hand. Due to the nature of their work, many responders struggle with a variety of medical issues. Not only can these illnesses cause a firefighter to be less efficient, they can cause them to have a medical emergency on the scene or at home, putting those depending on them at risk as well.
Heart-related incidents are a leading cause of firefighter injury and death year after year. In 2013 alone, the U.S. Fire Administration reported that 36 firefighters died in the line of duty due to a heart attack, and for several years this has been the leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters. Firefighters should stay educated on the key areas to improve their heart health. We should be aware of the risk as a community and take the steps to make a change.
Knowing Your Health
Heart-related medical conditions can be prevented by taking charge of your health. Follow physician’s recommendations for regular physicals and health screenings, and make sure that physicians and other medical professionals are aware of your employees’ professions, as it will be helpful for them to know.
Be aware of heart health risk factors and educate yourself and your team on how to minimize risks to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating fitness, healthy eating, and stress management as well as limiting alcohol and quitting smoking can dramatically boost an individual’s performance on the job and in life.
Heart disease is a common danger to firefighters and emergency responders. Taking proactive measures sooner than later can make all the difference. Stay motivated to keep your heart strong for yourself and those who depend on you.
Encouraging your team to follow these steps will help them to maintain a healthy blood pressure:
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay active at least 30 minutes five times per week to help keep blood pressure level.
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine, and sodium consumption, because they affect the blood vessels.
- Increase potassium intake to lower the effects of sodium.
- Take steps to reduce stress, such as getting a message, talking a walk, or enjoying a hobby.
Another measurement that firefighters and first responders should track is their cholesterol level. The following actions can lower cholesterol levels and improve overall health:
- Keeping up on moderately intense activity every week
- Avoiding foods high in saturated fats, such as butter (olive oil is a healthier alternative)
- Eating a diet dense in fiber
- Consuming foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Checking food labels and staying conscious of what you consume
- Eating fruits and low sodium nuts for a great natural source of energy
Maintaining a healthy body weight is another important step in preventing heart disease. Firefighters and first responders can manage their weight and improve their diets by reading nutrition facts and ingredient lists to weed out unhealthy substances, eating five small meals a day rather than three big ones to help control hunger levels and avoid overeating, enjoying multiple servings of vegetables and fruits each day, and maintaining a regular exercise routine.
Smoking is an addictive habit, but it is one that is very likely to create present and future health problems, especially for firefighters and first responders.
If you or any members of your team are struggling to quit smoking, find a support group or mentor to help with the process. It is a very difficult process, but it is one that many people across the world go through, and experiencing it with another person can make it easier.
We also encourage that you remove any reminders of smoking (such as ashtrays) from your workplace and encourage individuals to do the same to their homes. Another common method is listing reasons to quit smoking (both health-related and personal) as a reminder of why quitting this process is for the best.
About Provident Fire Plus
At Provident Fire Plus, we offer custom tailored packages to best protect firefighters and volunteer firefighters. We understand the risks that emergency response teams are subjected to on a daily basis, and have worked to serve these dedicated professionals for over 87 years. For more information about our products and policies, we invite you to contact our experts today at (800) 447-0360.