November 18, 2020
Judging by the sprinkle of snow on the ground this morning, winter is approaching! While you are preparing for the season by holiday decorating and baking cookies for Santa, or your career takes you outdoors in the brisk elements, there are a few safety measures to follow that will keep you safe from cold related illnesses.
Wearing warm, insulated layers will help protect your body against cold stress. Wearing a hat, gloves, scarf, insulated socks, waterproof footwear, and a neck/face mask will help preserve body heat and protect your vulnerable extremities. A bonus feature of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it will protect your face against the cold too!
Check the weather forecast before planning a day outside. If you are working outside, pre-planning could help you schedule tasks during the warmest parts of the day. Don’t forget to listen specifically for wind chill warnings! During the winter, you should keep an emergency kit in your car supplied with blankets, cat litter (in case your vehicle is stuck in snow), hand warmers, ice scraper and snow brush, flashlight with batteries, water, and road flares or reflective warning triangles. Keeping the basics in your vehicle will help you stay safe if you get stranded unexpectedly outside in cold temperatures.
Considerations Before Heading Outside
- Stay Dry – Wet clothing rapidly decreases your body temperature. This includes sweat, so if you are perspiring, remove outer layers.
- Stay Active – Moving around by walking or running will help keep you warm by generating your own body heat.
- Seek Shelter – If the wind chill is too high, the weather is too cold, or you are starting to feel too cold, it is important to seek shelter and limit the amount of time spent outside.
- Identify Pre-Existing Conditions – Some people are more susceptible to the cold, think children, the elderly, and those with circulation problems. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications will increase your susceptibility to cold.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
Early recognition is key with any illness, so being able to recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia will help prevent a severe medical emergency.
Hypothermia is caused by being cold for a prolonged period of time. You will notice shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control. This can progress to a life-threatening condition and cardiac arrest especially if shivering stops. Move the person indoors to warm them and get medical attention immediately by calling 911.
Frostbite can also occur. This is a severe condition that freezes the skin and underlying tissue. The skin will initially start to look white, waxy, and feel hard to the touch. The affected area will also feel numb or tingling. Frostbite can result in amputation, so getting medical help immediately is imperative. Be sure not to rub the area or apply direct heat as that may cause burns. The idea is to warm the body gradually.
With these tips you can be sure that you, your family, and your coworkers will stay safe and warm this winter, even with Jack Frost nipping at your nose!