No sooner had i written a post gushing about my new jobs than i found myself in a dangerous situation at work. In a massive twist of irony i suffered a heat stroke (at an indoor pool no less).
You see i work for two different pools, both are managed completely different when it comes to heat safety. Pool A as we’ll call it keeps the air temp in the 80’s, has large 6ft fans that we can stand in front of when guarding, and always makes sure guards get frequent breaks, even if the aquatic directors themselves have to jump in rotation.
Pool B keeps the air temp in the upper 90’s, there are no fans, breaks are less frequent, and as i came to find out… the heat swells to over 100° F in the mornings, and there are only 2 guards scheduled. Since both guard must be on deck the whole time, there are no breaks when opening.
I actually got myself into this mess. I picked up an opening shift off the trade board at Pool B, not knowing what i was getting myself into. After all opening shifts at pool A are my favorite and are one of the easiest shifts.
I was completely shocked by the heat when i got the keys an unlocked the door to the pool deck and stepped inside. I was also shocked when only one other guard showed up and they told me the bad news that there are never more than 2 guards in the morning.
I started feeling nauseous and dizzy within 45 mins, disoriented within an hour, and started to have tunnel vision and feel like i was going to pass out within an hour and a half.
Since ive had a heat stroke in the past, i recognized the symptoms and started to worry as soon as they started. I wasnt able to finish my shift, the other guard had to break the rules and guard by himself while i struggled to call and text other guards to find a replacement because i was so disoriented. Perhaps what i should have done is call 911, but being stubborn i just wanted to get a ride home and and told myself i would be fine once i cooled off and got my temp back down. That was a huge mistake and let to me evenually spending a few nights in the hospital anyway after multiple urgent care and doctor visits.
I would say the scariest part of a heat stroke for me is the confusion and disorientation. There were times i couldn’t understand people talking to me or read anything because all seemed like a foreign lanaguage, my brain which had been steam cooked on the pool deck just couldn’t process what was happening. My doctors compared it to healing from a concussion. Dizziness and vomiting is no big deal to me, been there done that, but altered mental status is a whole different ball game.
Needless to say i wont be guarding for pool B any longer, per the instructions of several doctors. Its not worth risking another heat stroke for a job that only pays minimum wage. I can continue guarding and teaching swim lessons for pool A and still get a good 30 hours a week where it is a safer environment.
Anyway, be careful out there guys, and dont hesitate to go to the hospital with symptoms of heat stroke. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for maintaining body temperature which makes dysautonomia and POTS patients especially prone to it. In the past i also suffered a heat stroke from simply taking a nap under a heavy blanket, waking up to a temp of 104.8° F!