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Cold Weather Injuries and Gear

Dress warmly and stay dry to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Frostbite Signs and Treatment:
  • Skin becomes pale, hard and numb.
  • Fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose are usually affected.

If frostbite occurs:

  • Move to a warm dry area and remove any clothing that fits tight and will limit blood flow.
  • Do not rub skin because it can cause tissue damage, instead, slowly soak affected area in warm water. Pouring warm water on affected area, warming it up too fast will cause tissue damage, slowly soaking for 25-40 minutes is important.
  • After area has become warm it may blister and be puffy. Wrap area to keep warm and seek medical attention. Do not expose area to cold again because it can cause more damage.

Hypothermia Signs:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Cool blue skin
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsy, and irritable
  • Confused or irrational

Treatment if hypothermia occurs:

  • Call for medical assistance.
  • Move person to dry place and replace wet clothes with dry warm clothes and cover them with a blanket.
  • Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks like sports drinks or sugar water. Do not give them caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
  • Try to get the person to move arms and legs to produce muscle heat. You can place warm water bottles or hot packs in their armpit, neck, groin, and head area if they are unable to move.
  • Do not rub them or put them in a hot bath because it can stop their heart.

Be Prepared for Working during Winter Conditions

  • Eat warm high calorie food, like pasta.
  • Drink warm and sweet liquids, avoid caffeine.
  • Don’t overdo it while working. Understand that your heart is already working harder to keep you warm.
  • If you must travel, let someone know your destination and estimated time of arrival so that if you’re late they can notify authorities if you are late.
  • Always have extra warm clothing appropriate for winter conditions.