Weather can often be unpredictable and extreme. When winter hits South Dakota, we all expect snow and cold. But, temps today and tomorrow will be extremely cold! Freezing temperatures can create serious health problems, collectively called cold stress. Here are some factors of cold stress:
- Freezing or near-freezing weather
- Strong winds
- Being wet
- Working for longer periods in extreme cold
- Working in poorly-insulated or poorly-heated areas
When facing bitterly cold temperatures, you need to take some preventative measures:
- Wear appropriate clothing, such as waterproofed and insulated boots, hats, and multiple layers of loose clothing. Particularly protect all extremities.
- Always carry cold weather gear, such as extra socks, gloves, hats, jackets, blankets, water, food, and a thermos of hot liquid.
- Carry a change of clothes and use them if clothes get wet.
- Limit the amount of time spent in cold, wet environments. Move into warm, dry locations during periodically.
- Do not touch cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
If you spend too much time out in the cold, you are likely to experience one or both of the following:
Hypothermia – a medical emergency in which the body can’t warm itself. Symptoms include fatigue, confusion, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing. When a person is suffering from hypothermia, remove any wet clothing and keep the person warm and dry with blankets. Give the person a warm drink is they are conscious. Lastly, get medical help.
Frostbite – damage to body tissue, mostly in the extremities. Symptoms are skin that is aching, tingling, stinging, pale or waxy. If you think you have frostbite, immerse your skin in warm but not hot water and then get medical help.
If your job requires you to work outside, we encourage you to have a buddy system and work in pairs. That way the two employees can keep an eye on each other and watch for signs of cold stress. Also make sure you are taking frequent breaks and going somewhere to warm up. The team at American Trust Insurance urges you these next few days to take extra care during the wind chill advisory.