Summertime patrol: 5 ways to beat the heat

Protecting yourself is vital if you plan on helping others, deterring crime and getting home at the end of your shift

As I sit here on my patio in the wee hours of the morning after a relentless, non-stop night of bar fights, family disturbances, live grenades found in a closet and your normal major accidents one after another, I’m hot, bothered and tired from the heat.

Then it hits me. Maybe it’s just the ungodly heat index. Or the full moon. Maybe everyone is restless and pissed off waiting for football season. Perhaps it is all the teenagers who are out of school. Whatever the reason, if you have spent any amount of time on patrol, you’ve come to realize the truth in the rumors about how crazy it gets out there in the summer. You may not be able to put your finger on the cause, but one thing is certain, it’s the truth.

There are a few essentials you may need out there on your beat during the hot summer solstice. Protecting yourself is vital if you plan on helping others, deterring crime and most important, getting home at the end of the day.

A New York City police officer wipes his face next during an August 2006 heat wave in New York. (AP Photo)
A New York City police officer wipes his face next during an August 2006 heat wave in New York. (AP Photo)

Below is a list of five essential things to help you beat the heat:

1. Water
Bring plenty of it. A jug, camel bag, canteen, case of bottles, whatever your fancy, but have it at your disposal. That next foot chase or standing out in an intersection for two hours directing traffic will dehydrate you before you know it.

2. Bug spray
It's an essential, especially here in Texas where I work. If you don’t believe me, you will after you tromp through some high grass and your ankles become the next meal for an army of chiggers.

3. Sunblock
Highly recommended for bald guys and motor jocks, who are constantly exposed during daylight hours. Even if you work the midnight shift, you never know when that late call may come in at 0630 hours, and you’re stuck out in the sun till 10 a.m.

4. Exercise
If you are not in some type of relatively decent shape, the sun, heat and humidity will whip your butt even quicker. Having stamina and a strong heart is a year-round must, but particularly being conditioned to the heat and used to sweating will help you survive.

5. Ballistic vest
I know, I know, it’s hot as hell, but hey, bottom line: Deal with it. You need it. Your family needs it. No one wants to bury your ass just yet, so wear your vest. And wash the cover at least once a week or your buddies may nickname you Pigpen!

One last thing...have clean towels. Sweating profusely on a call is like watching that overdramatic preacher on the TV on Sunday mornings. You know, the one whose head looks like it has a waterfall of sweat pouring off of it. Especially with a short hair cut, you will be raining copious amounts of perspiration off your noggin, and when you are finally able to crawl back into your cruiser, the first thing you are gonna want (and need) to do is dry your head off.

These are some common sense guidelines to get you through the summer months. If you’re a rookie, ask veteran guys for additional tips  specific to your region of the country. Then hit the shower, go home and pop a top or two off your favorite cold beverage and enjoy your summer before it’s time to start bitchin’ about the cold that’s on its way.

Stay safe out there.

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