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0209 PD: Working safely in cold weather

Jeanine McGill Published on 14 January 2009

Exposure to cold can lead to serious illness, so it is important to be aware of the temperature and how to protect yourself against it.

Cold exposure can occur in weather that is not freezing. Wind, humidity and moisture remove body heat, which can eventually lead to hypothermia. The cold primarily affects the body’s extremities; hands and feet have less blood flow.

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Cold weather exposure prevention tips:

1. Wear several layers of loose clothing. Layering provides better insulation and can be removed if you become too hot.
2. Choose clothing that does not restrict movement. Remember tight clothing reduces blood circulation.
3. Select waterproof and insulated boots to wear.
4. Wear a hat to keep your whole body warmer. Heat escapes through the head.
5. Make sure to protect your ears, face, hands and feet from the cold.
6. Move to a warm location periodically.
7. Limit the amount of time outside on extremely cold days.
8. Carry cold weather gear, such as extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, a change of clothes and a thermos of hot liquid.
9. Include a thermometer and chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
10. Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.

Things to remember:
• To prevent cold weather ailments dress properly and do not stay out in the extreme cold for extended periods of time.
• Frostnip is the freezing of the top skin tissue layers. The affected areas should be rewarmed gently.
• Frostbite is the freezing of all layers of skin, muscles and bones. Warm affected parts slowly and seek medical attention.
• Hypothermia is the general cooling of the entire body and can be life- threatening – call 911. PD

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