Cold Weather Safety Tips
Exposure to excessive cold is as dangerous as exposure to excessive heat, with frostbite and hypothermia (a drop in body temperature) the most serious consequences. To a lesser degree, fatigue, numbness, chills, muscular cramps, tingling and aching are also symptoms of overexposure to the cold. They are nevertheless easy to avoid.
- Quick Tips
- Dress warmly, stay dry. Wear wind‐resistant clothing if possible, along with a hat and gloves.
- Understand wind chill. When there are high winds, serious weather‐related health problems can arise, when temperatures are only cool.
- Watch your steps. Walking on ice can be extremely dangerous and it can often blend into the pavement.
- Keep in mind that alcoholic and caffeinated beverages cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Dehydration occurs more quickly in cold, dry weather. Be sure to keep yourself well hydrated, especially if you are exerting yourself.
- Make your time outside as brief as possible. If you feel that you should get inside, do so.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Use things like thermal underwear, undershirts, track suits, sweaters, snowsuits, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Be sure that your outer layer is tightly woven and windproof.
- Wear wool – it is a popular material for cold because it will keep you warmer than cotton when damp or wet.
- Wear mittens over gloves – layering works for your hands as well.
- Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
- Spending Time Outdoors
Spending Time Outdoors
- Don’t stay out in the cold. If you have to stay out in the cold for work, be sure to take frequent breaks where it is warm.
- Avoid getting wet. Moisture can speed the onset of hypothermia and can be very dangerous. If you expect to get wet, keep a dry set of clothing nearby – especially a hat, gloves, socks, and boots.
- Frostbite & Hypothermia
Frostbite & Hypothermia
- Cover exposed skin and watch for frostbite. In extreme cold, frostbite can happen in under a minute. Wind only makes the risk greater – make sure to cover all exposed skin. The symptoms of frostbite include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1.
- If you suspect that a person is suffering from Hypothermia, don’t give hot drinks or hot food; raise the legs or place hot water bottles on feet; do not place the person in a hot shower or bath; do not give any alcohol or drugs; do not massage the arms or legs.
- In an emergency, call a doctor, ambulance, rescue squad or local emergency room; handle the person very gently; protect the person from the cold with blankets, quilts, towels or extra clothes; ensure that the persons head and neck are covered.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol can speed the onset and worsen the effects of hypothermia.
- Physical Activity
- Keep moving. Your body generates its own heat when you engage in physical activity. Moving will help keep you warm.
- Don’t overexert yourself. Cold weather can exacerbate underlying respiratory illness. Be careful about exerting yourself in extreme cold.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack – a major cause of death in the winter. Be sure to stop shoveling if you have shortness of breath, heavy sweating, or any kind of pain. Avoid shoveling if you are elderly or have a heart condition.
- Stretch before going outside to shovel.
- Take frequent breaks from shoveling, even if only for a couple of minutes.
- Use a smaller shovel and make sure your shovel isn’t bent, tilting, or damaged.
- Car Safety
Severe snow storms may limit visibility and create hazardous road conditions. If you must travel during severe weather, consider checking road conditions by visiting http://traveler.modot.org/map/. Should you become stranded, staying in until help can arrive is the safest thing to do.
Be sure to prepare an emergency kit for your car with items such as:
· First Aid Kit
· Windshield scraper
· Booster cables
· Mobile phone/charger
· Tool kit
· Bag of sand or cat liter (to pour on snow for added traction)
· Tow rope
· Collapsible shovel
· Canned or dried foods and a can opener
· Flashlight and extra batteries
· Canned compressed air with sealant (for emergency tire repair)
· A brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna as a signal to rescuers