Hypothermia occurs when your body loses its ability to maintain body heat and your core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia can lead to illness, altered decision-making ability, and even death.
Moisture from fog, rain, sleet, snow, and perspiration can also cause rapid body temperature loss.
Shivering is one of the first signs that your body is losing heat.
If shivering continues to the point where you cannot control it, you are already experiencing hypothermia. You should seek shelter from the cold and start administering warming techniques immediately.
Other hypothermia symptoms to monitor include:
Fatigue, exhaustion, and drowsiness.
Confusion, memory problems, and slurred speech.
Irritable or irrational behavior.
Stumbling feet or fumbling hands show a need for coordination.
Plan your work according to the weather forecast.
Cancel or postpone work when severe weather is anticipated, including:
Extreme and sudden temperature drops prevent you from acclimating to the cold.
Increased winds can make cold temperatures feel even colder due to the wind chill factor.
Rain, sleet, or snow can get you wet and put you at higher risk of hypothermia.
Ice conditions can cause vehicle accidents, slips, or physical hazards from falling icicles.
Prepare ahead for cold weather work, watch out for yourself and coworkers, and use safe work practices such as:
Use communication methods to let others know your work location and when to expect you back.
Using the buddy system to monitor each other for signs and symptoms of hypothermia.
Carrying extra cold weather gear and changes of clothing.
Stocking your first aid kit with chemical heat packs.
First aid treatment and warming methods for hypothermia include:
Removing all wet clothing.
Warm the body’s trunk first with blankets, heating pads, or layers of dry clothing.
Drinking warm, sweet beverages or sipping warm broth.
Avoiding the consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can lead to dehydration.
Unconscious hypothermia victims need immediate emergency medical treatment. Call 9-1-1 and follow directions from the 9-1-1 operator.
Recognize hypothermia risks, signs, and symptoms.
Plan your work for the cold weather season and extreme weather episodes.
Use these prevention techniques to avoid hypothermia and stay safe in cold weather.