Be Prepared For Winter's Worst

Winter’s coming. And for those who work outdoors, cold weather ads another element of danger to an already hazardous job. As the temperatures drop, adverse conditions on both job site and the human body rise. But knowing the risk factors and recognizing the symptoms of cold stress can help prevent dangerous situations. Use the following information on hypothermia and frostbite to stay safe this winter:
 
Hypothermia occurs when the body uses up all of it’s stored energy and can no long produce heat. This most often occurs after prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. 
 
In the early stages look for:
  • Shivering 
Loss of coordination 
  • Fatigue
Confusion/disorientation 


  • Progression to late stages will include:
  • Blue skin
Dilated pupils
  • No shivering
Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Loss of consciousness 
First Aid:
  • Request immediate medical assistance

  • Move victim to warm room or shelter 

  • Remove wet clothing

  • Warm center of the body first—-starting with chest, neck, head, and groin—-using an electric blanket; or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, or towels 

  • If conscious, warm beverages (but no alcohol) can help increase body temperature
  • Once temperature has increased, keep victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck 

  • If no pulse, begin CPR 
Frostbite is an injury to the body that caused by freezing. It most often affects extremities such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. 

 
Symptoms include: 
  • Reduced blood flow to hands and feet 
  • Numbness 
  • Aching

  • Tingling or stinging

  • Bluish or pale, waxy skin 
First Aid:
  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible 

  • Unless necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes 

  • Immerse the affected area in warm (not hot) water, or warm the area using body heat
  • Do not use a heating pad, fireplace, or radiator for warming 

  • Do not massage the frostbitten area as this may cause more damage