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A chilling reminder

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We have been experiencing almost golfing weather for a few January days. If you took advantage of the warmer days to play a round (golfing) or ride your motorcycle or just enjoy the sunshine, then I hope you took that advantage. Remember, it is winter and the cold will return.

The OSHA website has a reminder to those that work in the cold to be prepared and what to do if someone becomes a subject of cold stress. I have included the article for that reminder and the links for their publications.

In light of recent frigid temperatures, OSHA is reminding workers and employers, whose work is concentrated outside, to take the necessary precautions to prevent cold-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA's "Cold Stress Pocket Card" (English/Spanish) provides recommendations on protecting workers in cold environments. For example, take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up. Electronic copies can be downloaded from the agency's publications page, or printed copies can be ordered online or by calling 202-693-1888.

THE COLD STRESS EQUATION
When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result.

Hypothermia can occur when land temperatures are above freezing or water temperatures are below 98.6°F/ 37°C. Cold related illnesses can slowly overcome a person who has been chilled by low temperatures, brisk winds, or wet clothing.

LOW TEMPERATURE + WIND SPEED + WETNESS = INJURIES & ILLNESS

FROST BITE
What Happens to the Body:
FREEZING IN DEEP LAYERS OF SKIN AND TISSUE; PALE, WAXY-WHITE SKIN COLOR; SKIN BECOMES HARD and NUMB; USUALLY AFFECTS THE FINGERS, HANDS, TOES, FEET, EARS, and NOSE.

What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)
• Move the person to a warm dry area. Don’t leave the person alone.
• Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
• DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue.
• Gently place the affected area in a warm (105°F) water bath and monitor the water temperature to slowly warm the tissue. Don’t pour warm water directly on the affected area because it will warm the tissue too fast causing tissue damage. Warming takes about 25-40 minutes.
• After the affected area has been warmed, it may become puffy and blister. The affected area may have a burning feeling or numbness. When normal feeling, movement, and skin color have returned, the affected area should be dried and wrapped to keep it warm. NOTE: If there is a chance the affected area may get cold again, do not warm the skin. If the skin is warmed and then becomes cold again, it will cause severe tissue damage.
• Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

HYPOTHERMIA - (Medical Emergency)
What Happens to the Body:
NORMAL BODY TEMPERATURE (98.6° F/37°C ) DROPS TO OR BELOW 95°F (350 C); FATIGUE OR DROWSINESS; UNCONTROLLED SHIVERING; COOL BLUISH SKIN; SLURRED SPEECH; CLUMSY MOVEMENTS; IRRITABLE, IRRATIONAL OR CONFUSED BEHAVIOR.

What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)
• Call for emergency help (i.e., Ambulance or Call 911).
• Move the person to a warm, dry area. Don’t leave the person alone. Remove any wet clothing and replace with warm, dry clothing or wrap the person in blankets.
• Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks (sugar water or sports-type drinks) if they are alert. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
• Have the person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat. If they are unable to do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck, and head areas. DO NOT rub the person’s body or place them in warm water bath. This may stop their heart.

What Should Be Done: (water temperatures)
• Call for emergency help (Ambulance or Call 911). Body heat is lost up to 25 times faster in water.
• DO NOT remove any clothing. Button, buckle, zip, and tighten any collars, cuffs, shoes, and hoods because the layer of trapped water closest to the body provides a layer of insulation that slows the loss of heat. Keep the head out of the water and put on a hat or hood.
• Get out of the water as quickly as possible or climb on anything floating. DO NOT attempt to swim unless a floating object or another person can be reached because swimming or other physical activity uses the body’s heat and reduces survival time by about 50 percent.
• If getting out of the water is not possible, wait quietly and conserve body heat by folding arms across the chest, keeping thighs together, bending knees, and crossing ankles. If another person is in the water, huddle together with chests held closely.

How to Protect Workers
• Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
• Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help the worker.
• Train the workforce about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
• Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin (polypropylene).
• Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
• Perform work during the warmest part of the day.
• Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
• Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
• Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
• Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.

Workers Are at Increased Risk When...
• They have predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
• They take certain medication (check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacy and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments).
• They are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet, or are older.
 

With the temperature swings on these nice days it can be 35* when you start your day and 55* early afternoon. You may want to shed some of your layers of clothing when you are exerting yourself, just keep in mind that it cools down quickly so keep those extra layers nearby.

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