Environmental Health & Safety

Cold Weather Injuries and Gear

You may not live in one of America's five coldest cities, but that doesn't mean you don't have to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia. Both conditions are caused by excessive exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture.

Cold weather can be dangerous for anyone who enjoys outdoor winter sports, and people who work outdoors during winter must be particularly mindful of the risks.

Here are few tips:

  • Dress warmly and stay dry to avoid frostbit and hypothermia.
  • Frostbite Signs and Treatment:
    • Skin becomes pale, hard numb
    • Fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose are usually affected.
    • If frostbite occurs:
      • Move to a warm dry area and remove any clothing that fits tight and will limit blood flow.
      • Do not rub skin because it can cause tissue damage, instead slowly soak affected area in warm water.  Pouring warm water on affected area, warming it too fast wil lcause tissue damage, slowly soaking for 25-40 minutes is important.
      • After area has become warm it may blister and be puffy.  Wrap area to keep warm and seek medical attention.  Do not expose area to cold again becuase it can cause more damage.
  • Hypothermia Signs and Treatment:
    • Fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering, cool blue skin, slurred speech, clumsy, and irritable ,confused, or irrational.
    • If hypothermia occurs:
      • Call for medical assistance.
      • Move person to dry place and replace wet clothes with dry warm closthes and cover them with a blanket.
      • Have the person drink warm, sweek drinks like sports drinks or sugar water.  Do not give them caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
      • Try to get the person to move arms and legs to produce muscle heat.  You can place warm water bottle or hot packs in their armpit, neck, groin, and head area if they are unable to move.
      • Do not rub them or put them in a hot bath because it can stop their heart.