The risks of being exposed to the extreme cold are numerous and dangerous. The All One Health medical expertise has compiled information on how to stay warm in the cold and how to notice the warning signs of hypothermia.
Tips for Working in the Extreme Cold
- Wear appropriate clothing.
- Wear several layers of clothing. The layers should fit loosely because tight clothing reduces blood circulation and warm blood needs to be circulated to the extremities.
- When choosing clothing, be aware that some clothing may restrict movement which, in and of itself, may create a hazardous working situation.
- Make sure to protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold weather.
- Boots should be waterproof and insulated.
- Be sure to wear a hat.
- The goal should be to expose as little skin as possible to the cold environment.
- Workers in extreme conditions should take frequent, short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
- Drink warm beverages and eat warm, high-calorie foods.
- Avoid exhaustion and fatigue because they sap energy, and energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system – work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature)
- Early Stage
- Loss of coordination
- Confusion and disorientation Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If not treated in the early stage, the condition will become life-threatening.
- Late Stage
- No shivering
- Blue skin
- Dilated pupils
- Slowed pulse and breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Request immediate medical assistance.
First Aid for Hypothermia
- Request emergency medical assistance.
- Move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
- Remove any wet clothing.
- Warm the center of the victim’s body first, that is, the chest, neck, head, and groin. One may also use loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
- If the victim is conscious, warm beverages may help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages.
- After the victim’s body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.