Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours

If you start to feel drowsy, you must protect yourself and others:
  • Stop driving or performing any critical activity
  • Consume caffeine
  • Take a nap
  • You can have caffeine and then take a short nap; when you wake up you get the alerting benefits from both

If you are struggling to stay awake while driving, you are impaired enough to cause an accident. Pull over and rest. No research has shown anything like rolling the window down, turning up the radio, or pinching yourself will keep you alert.

If you have a long commute between the disaster site and the place where you sleep, take extra precautions: drive with another person, take a nap, or consume caffeine prior to the commute.

About 20% of all vehicle crashes are from driver fatigue. Workers who are young men, night workers, or who work long hours are at highest risk.

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Page last reviewed: April 1, 2020