Preparing for the Weather

Many of my peers have an annual ritual of poking fun at me in the late fall when I break out the “light” long johns or undergarments as they are referred to today. Many of the younger and inexperienced officers give me a grin when I explain the benefits of dressing appropriately when we are on duty outside or in the cruiser. They learn the hard way like I did years ago. Many sections of our town have open spaces along the roadways and state highway which comes though and nothing is more of an attention getter than freezing your tail off while working a vehicle crash, backing up another L.E.O. and other duties and you are exposed to the elements and the wind.
When you dress for duty, do you dress for the outdoors?

What if you get stuck in a situation you are outdoors like a crowd control situation, a building fire, a traffic control post, chasing a suspect or looking for a lost person?
Dressing for duty is vital for your health and well-being. Along with our ballistic vest and the issued equipment that we must wear, please consider wearing… the appropriate clothing for the season or carry some extra apparel with your duty bag in the cruiser.

Dress for the weather and prepare for all conditions
• Duty boots: shoes that fit properly, water resistant, Gore-Tex materials, breathable and comfortable.
• Socks: Breathable materials that wick perspiration and water. Some studies have you avoid cotton material as this absorbs moisture which makes your feet feel cold. The U.S. Military Researchers recommended in an article: Spray your feet with an anti-per spirant before placing a warm sock made of such as wool. When lacing your boots, give your foot some room to create a pocket of warm air around your foot to discourage your feet from sweating.
• Undergarments: Breathable, comfortable and proper fit so you can move around without restriction.
• Layers: Dress in layers, shirt, sweater, jacket to adjust to the changing climate during your patrol shift.
• Head gear: The head loses a large amount of body heat through our head. Wear a warm hat which your department approves. My favorite is the Russian style cap with the badge on the front flap for the cold days. O.K. I do endure the “you look like a Q-tip” jokes which I always reply with a smile, “at least I am a warm Q-tip!”
• Rain gear: Good quality and highly visible lime green color rain apparel. Many of our duties are on the roadways in bad weather and poor visibility. Carry it with you on patrol as the weather can change fast. Getting soaked during a sudden cloud burst when you are stuck outside is not the way you spend the rest of your shift.
• Gloves: Good leather, warm duty gloves with good materials, high visibility color gloves for traffic control are some such. Important tip: can you handle your service weapon and fire it with the gloves? Make sure they fit or you can pull them off quick in this situation.
• Small items: sun block, lip balm, hand cream, extra latex gloves, first aid kit including a tactical clotting trauma dressing, sun glasses or extra prescription glasses should be in your bag if needed.
I share these tips to help you prepare for the remainder of this winter season. Many L.E.O. in different locations will face different weather conditions. Be prepared!

REMEMBER: We are the honorable profession!
Stay safe and be well!

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About Mark St. Hilaire

Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire has 25+ years as a police officer and is currently serving as a Patrol Sergeant in a suburb of Metrowest Boston, Massachusetts. Mark is continually training as a police peer assistant, and serves as a volunteer member of a regional C.I.S.M. team. He is committed to educating public safety professionals about the benefits of good health,developing our relationships and emotional wellness to improve our quality of life on and off duty.
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