Listen To Your Body
How the body performs is the best indicator of what is going on inside of it. If it doesn’t feel right, it might not be. It is encouraged that all fire fighters listen to their bodies and get checked at the first signs of abnormal issues and symptoms.
There are many important components to help the body stay cancer-free in the fire service. A key step is to never start using tobacco products, of any kind. If a member occasionally smokes cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars or dips smokeless tobacco, it is encouraged they stop immediately. Regular use of a sunscreen or sunblock can help protect from skin cancer. General wellness can be achieved by regular exercise, a healthy diet and, most of all, awareness of what is going on in the body.
Physical fitness is extremely important as a fire fighter. Being physically fit can prevent or reduce injury, increase performance, increase career longevity and help improve one’s quality of retirement. There is a physical fitness standard that must be reached when someone initially joins the fire service, but fitness throughout one’s career is just as important.
Research has demonstrated the need for high levels of aerobic fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength, muscular power and flexibility in order to perform safely and effectively in the fire service. The activities required while performing work on the fireground are physically demanding and can put stress on the heart. Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of fire fighter fatalities. Healthier, physically fit and conditioned fire fighters will lead to fewer injuries and improved performance on the fireground. Staying in shape and working out throughout one’s tenure will also lead to a healthier life after retirement and allow the retiree to have a higher quality of life during their retirement years. Working out while on shift also provides camaraderie within a crew and station.
Sleep habits are another consideration for fire fighters. This chosen profession often makes regular sleeping habits difficult or impossible. Long shifts of 24 or 48 hours contribute to irregular sleep habits, which have been shown to have a negative impact on health. As recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), fire fighters should focus on getting plenty of rest while off-duty, rather than exacerbating potential health hazards by going without sleep or limiting the opportunity to get adequate rest when available.
According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol is a leading cause, as well as a contributing factor, to many forms of cancer. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems and cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon. Limit alcohol consumption to not more than one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.