Tips for Surviving Surveillance
Posted by Pamela S. on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Private investigators check out many claims involving questionable personal injury or health claims for insurance companies, short or long term disabilities benefits and Workers’ Compensation. Usually, this involves hours of surveillance. Because of this, many P.I.s end up with their own health issues. This is a dangerous job, but the average person doesn’t realize that the hazards are mostly health related. You need a real spine to be an investigator and your spine will take a beating.
I know what I am talking about. I spent 18 years on the road conducting surveillance. I loved surveillance, but I had to pack it in and move to the office because my body could no longer take the strain of long hours sitting in a vehicle.
Surviving the Weather
Have you ever watched a news report where someone left a dog in a car on a hot day with the windows rolled up? That is what it is like being on surveillance in the summer, or in a hot part of the country, such as Florida.
Check out this public service ad. If it is the same thing for a dog, it is no different for us. You’re stuck in a Catch 22. If you drink to hydrate, you will have to go to the washroom, and you can’t leave your surveillance. There are ways around that, especially for men, but it is more difficult for women.
When it is 85 degrees outside, the inside of a parked care can exceed 122 degrees, with the windows rolled up. Cracking the window open helps a bit, but not enough.
Drinking coffee or tea acts as a diuretic. Carry a cooler with ice packs and water. Fill a spray bottle with water, keep it on ice and use it to spray your face to cool you down. You are probably already wet, because sweat is pouring down your face. What’s a little more moisture?
Purchase a neck wrap filled with gel that retains water, such as the Cobber Body Cooling Neck Wrap. This simple solution works by lowering the body temperature by cooling the carotid arteries.
You can get a sunburn in your vehicle. Wear sunscreen and a decent pair of sunglasses. The sun contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration as you age.
Sunstroke and heat exhaustion are dangerous. The symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, rapid pulse and dry skin.
In cold weather, dress for the occasion. Wear layers; it will keep you warmer because it traps air. You can also remove some layers if you get too hot. You can’t function if you are puffed up like the Michelin Man, but a good down filled coat will keep you warm. Scientists at the McMurdo station in Antarctica wear the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. It may be bulky, but it will keep you warm. It comes with a hefty price tag, but if you can’t take the cold, it is worth the price. Heat packs can also be placed inside your clothes and boots.
Overcoming and Preventing Back Pain
I’ve talked to a number of doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors, and they all agree; sitting is the worst thing for your body, especially your back.
Sitting weakens the muscles in your spine and contributes to degeneration of the vertebral column, weight gain, fatigue, and a host of other health problems.
If you sit all day, you should get up every ten minutes and walk around. You can’t do that on surveillance. Use a lumbar support backrest. Try to change position and not spend all of your time slumped down in your seat.
After work, try to get some exercise, even if it is just walking. Massage therapy is an excellent way to get all of those kinks out of your back , and it is relaxing. Some people swear by chiropractic treatment. Acupuncture is also helpful for all kinds of health problems. It doesn’t hurt. Really, it doesn’t.
When you are on the road all of the time, sooner or later you will probably end up in an accident. Don’t do what I did, and get back on the road the next day wearing a cervical collar. Let your body heal, but don’t malinger or another investigator will be doing surveillance on you.
Caring for your Emotional Health
You need to be able to survive loneliness and stress if you are going to do surveillance for any period of time. It isn’t for everyone. If you can’t stand to be alone, don’t even think about this as a career option.
Traffic jams, dangerous locations and poor driving conditions can create anxiety and stress. Listen to music, talk radio, or talk to friends on the phone. Do anything that makes you happy, but won’t distract you from your job.
I know a few investigators who became heavily involved in substance abuse. That can happen in any occupation, especially the more stressful ones. There is no stigma in seeking help, or talking to a therapist.
Watching what you Eat
Sitting and eating fast food or donuts is just going to make you gain weight. If you pack on the pounds, it is more difficult to do your job. You have to be prepared for a long day of work. Bringing a cooler of food insures that you won’t run out of healthy things to eat. Take lots of fruit, vegetables and protein. Try to avoid junk food, and keep track of your calories.
I can give this advice because I learned from my mistakes, even if it was too late. I’m sitting here writing this with chronic back pain and fibromyalgia caused by not taking care of myself all of those years on the road. Don’t fall into the same trap.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.