February 19, 2015
With the extremely cold weather hitting our area we remind all members to work safely when helping the customers we serve. All members should review safety documentation given to them by their employers. Supplemental information on working in cold weather can be found on OSHA’s website osha.gov.
Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious “cold stress” health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.
OSHA provides a Cold Stress Reference Guide and recommendations on how to be protected and combat and prevent cold stress illnesses and injuries. Read it now by clicking here.
Dressing Properly for the Cold
When cold environments or temperatures cannot be avoided dressing properly is extremely important to preventing cold stress. Read OSHA’s suggestions on how to dress in cold weather here.
Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body, and in severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
What are the symptoms of frostbite?
Reddened skin develops gray/white patches in the fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firm/hard, and blisters may occur in the affected areas.
Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Exposure to cold temperatures causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body’s stored energy.
What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
An important mild symptom of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering, which should not be ignored. Shivering indicates that the body is losing heat, it also helps the body to rewarm itself.
Moderate to severe symptoms of hypothermia are loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slow, unconsciousness and possibly death. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain this makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know what is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Information on how to treat frostbite and hypothermia can be found here.
We all must remember
No job is so important and no service is so urgent that we cannot take the time to perform our jobs safely.
Please check on your family, friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe and forward this information to others who may be at risk.
Forward this message to a friend or co-worker.