During times of crisis thousands of people come out to help. This was seen during 911 and Katrina and now during the oil spill in the Gulf. Whether you are a volunteer or a paid contractor it is essential that you remember to maintain your own health. Working long hours and losing track of time can easily lead you to forget to do the things to keep yourself strong and allow you to give your maximum effort. If you get sick you will not only lose the opportunity to help but the care you require will divert efforts away from the job at hand. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind if you are providing services during a crisis.
1- Keep an eye on the color of your urine – if it gets darker then a light yellow, or if it gets brown, you are dehydrating. Drink as much water as you can while you are working. This is especially true if you are working outside in the heat.
2- Wear shoes that provide good support – make sure your entire foot is protected. Do not wear open toes or sandals. The best foot protection has rubber soles and laces tightly. You will see enlisted workers in boots no matter how warm it is. A good sneaker or boot will do fine. It will provide support and protection.
3- Not every runny nose is contagious. But if you have a fever or are throwing up take the day off. Give yourself time to recover and don’t spread germs.
4- Put your cell phone away. You cannot work effectively with one hand or focus on what you are doing while speaking to someone on the phone.
5- Use sunscreen and bug spray. Full length pants and shirts with sleeves will provide the most protection from sun and bug bites.
6- Wearing a cap or hat will also protect you from the sun. Brims may keep the sun out of your eyes but won’t provide the protection from the sun on your head.
7- Get enough sleep. Serious crises often require that work be done around the clock. It is easy to forget what day it is or if you have gotten enough sleep. Try not to work for more than 12 hours at a time. And don’t do that for more than two weeks. Eight hour days will let you continue to work much longer. Tired people make mistakes and have accidents.
8- Keep in touch with your family. Once a day make sure you contact someone to let them know you are alright. The anxiety level of your loved ones will be very high if they don’t hear from you.
9- If your stress level gets high or a problem arises at home you may want to inquire if there is a person onsite who is designated to help with those issues. Maintaining your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
10- Do the best you can at the job you have been assigned. You cannot solve a crisis singlehandedly. Remember you are a part of a team and work together to achieve your goals.
No matter what crisis may arise, on land or sea, in the city or the country, the above recommendations will be valid. Always remember that you want to become part of the solution – not part of the problem. Do what you are asked to do and follow instructions. Clear new ideas with those in charge. It often takes hundreds or thousands of people to respond to a crisis. Being a part of that is very gratifying. Just remember to keep yourself healthy and fit.