Hazardous Winter Conditions Information
Be proactive and learn all you can to protect yourself and others from potential harm from hazardous winter weather.
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. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or immersion in cold water.
An important mild symptom of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering, which should not be ignored. Although 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.
- Call 911 immediately in an emergency:
- Move the worker to a warm, dry area.
- Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing. Wrap the entire body (including the head and neck) in layers of blankets; do not cover the face.
Source: National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 2018
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.
Symptoms include development of gray/white patches on the cold, red skin of fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firmness/hardness, and blisters may occur in the affected areas.
- Get into a warm environment!
- Protect the frostbitten area from contact until medical help arrives, e.g., by wrapping loosely in a dry cloth.
- DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue.
- Do not apply snow or water. Do not break blisters.
- DO NOT try to warm the frostbitten area before getting medical help. If a frostbitten area is warmed and gets frozen again, more tissue damage will occur. It is safer for the frostbitten area to be warmed by medical professionals.
- Give warm, sweetened drinks if alert (no alcohol).