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Archive for the ‘Surveillances’ Category

Summer Surveillances: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

Posted by Writing PIs on July 13, 2019

Scientists think summers could be hotter than in the previous 50 years (image in public domain)

Updated July 13, 2019: This article was originally written eight years ago after I experienced heat exhaustion while conducting a series of daytime surveillances. At that time, both my PI partner and myself had conducted dozens of surveillances, many during the summer months. Both of us knew what safeguards to take, but nevertheless the heat took its toll.

As summers across the globe could be increasingly hotter than any we’ve experienced within the last 50 years (based on a recent study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research state  that), it’s imperative to take adequate precautions when working outdoors.

What Is Heat Exhaustion?

From Mayo Clinic: Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or gradually over time (mine was the latter). Possible signs and symptoms:

  • Cool, moist skin
  • Goose bumps, despite the heat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Lightheaded or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

That summer, I re-learned some powerful lessons about conducting summertime surveillances, starting with the most important one:

Lesson #1: Respect the heat! I thought I’d taken adequate precautions (parking in shady spots; taking breaks in an air-conditioned building; staying hydrated, etc.), yet I still succumbed to heat exhaustion, likely due to the repeated days of high temperatures.

A few ideas for staying cool:

  • Bring ice packs along on the surveillance

    When possible, select cool, shady areas for surveillances

  • Pick shady spots to park in
  • Ensure there’s adequate ventilation in the vehicle. If appropriate, run air conditioning (there’s also portable units investigators can purchase that help keep the inside of a vehicle cool)
  • When feasible, take breaks in air-conditioned buildings
  • Wear a rimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water, Gatorade or fruit juices (not sodas or coffee!)
  • Wear loose-fitting and cool clothes.

Lesson #2: Mine your client for details. It’s funny how many people have called and asked us to follow someone without any suggestions or knowledge about the subject’s schedule or habits. Maybe in the movies a PI can jump into a car and follow someone for hours with zero idea where that person typically goes that time of day, or is scheduled to go on a particular day, but that’s a road to failure in real-life surveillances.

It aids the surveillance significantly to have an idea where the person might be traveling, or if they have a scheduled appointment (hair dresser, exercise club, therapist) for a certain day and time. How does a PI find this information? Interview the client, ask about the subject’s habits, schedules, work routines, and so forth. Sometimes we’ve worked on an “on-call” basis with a client (he/she calls us when they have information where a subject will be that day—of course, this doesn’t mean we’re always available at that particular time, which is an agreed-upon understanding of the “on-call” approach).

Lesson #3: Stay in close touch with your PI partner. We’ve conducted multiple two-car mobile surveillances during summer, and understand the value of staying in constant touch. For example, before we drive through traffic to follow a vehicle, we’ll call each other on our cells, then leave that line of communication open as we drive (we put our phones on speaker, set them on the console, and talk to each other as we drive). This way, we can immediately inform each other if the car is turning, if we’re playing “leap frog” with the vehicle, and so forth.

Note: In our state, any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission. Adult drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone to text message, or send similar forms of transmission, while behind the wheel. Regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted. Drivers of any age may use a wireless device in the case of an emergency.

Tips From Other Investigators

We’ve heard other investigators talk about their vehicle having tinted windows, installing a roof vent in the vehicle, wearing canvas shoes, if possible working at night vs. the day, one said her best way to stay cool was wrapping a bandana filled with ice wrapped around her neck.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this material without written permission from the author. Unless an image is noted as being in the public domain, do not copy or use any graphics/photos.

Posted in Real-Life Private Investigator Stories, Surveillances | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Summer Surveillances: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

 
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