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Keeping Safe during Winter: A Few Tips for Construction Workers

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | December 11, 2013 | Comments Off on Keeping Safe during Winter: A Few Tips for Construction Workers

Winter has arrived. Many of you are probably busy clearing up your driveway, and thinning out layers of ice on your roof– at home or at the job site. Or you could be busy frolicking in the snow with your kids and building an obligatory front lawn snowman. Whatever you’re doing make sure that you’re observing proper winter safety tips, and protecting yourself from the cold weather. Here are some safety tips for you, courtesy of Michigan.gov and Princeton.edu.

Wind Chill, Frostbite

Wind chill is a sensation caused by cold air, yet five times the level of what you’d usually feel inside a nippy, air-conditioned room. It is extremely dangerous and can speed up the decrease of heat from the human body.

Frostbite, as it sounds, freezes body tissues and poses great danger to a person as well. It numbs down the affected site (i.e. Extremities, nose, and ears) so much that you won’t feel a thing even when your frozen ears have already been severed by the eyes and fallen off your body. Frostbite is made more severe by continued exposure to cold air.

Frost nip, the onset of frost bite, can be treated and resolved on your own by placing a warm hand on the affected site. You can also blow warm air on the frostnipped site. These are the most advisable things to do; never submerge your hand in hot water or rub it to warm it.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is perhaps one of the lethal, silent killers of these cold winter months. It happens when the body is rid of heat and the temperature goes down to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. According to Mayoclinic.com, prolonged exposure to wind and the cold, inadequate heating, and wearing clothes that are not heat-generating enough, can cause heat loss. Symptoms of hypothermia include, shivering, confusion, slurred speech, impaired coordination, lethargy and slow and shallow breathing.

How can you beat the onset of hypothermia? Princeton.edu recommends putting on more layers of clothing, more fluid and food intake, and adding more heat to the body.

Reducing heat loss. Wearing thicker layers of dry clothing, increasing physical activity and seeking shelter when you’re feeling too cold can help manage the risks of hypothermia.

Adding fluid and food intake. Make sure to take 5 calories/gram each of carbs, proteins and fats since they help you store energy and produce more heat. Drink hot liquids and sugar-rich drinks too. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, however, since they dehydrate you more even if they do make your body feel warmer.

Adding heat. Stay close to a heat source (like a furnace or heater). Also beware of carbon monoxide dangers.

Traveling for the holidays? Check weather ahead of time, plan your route, and make sure your vehicle is well maintained.  Keep extra blankets, water, and snacks in the car in case you get stranded. Wear layers of warm clothing that can be shed or added depending on conditions. Let someone know where you are going, your route, and expected arrival times. Keep your cell phone charged in case of an emergency while traveling. Head all winter weather travel advisories. If authorities advise you not to travel then stay at home. Be prepared for any delay due to dangerous winter storms.

Remember that you should already seek medical help if you or any one you’re with is experiencing severe hypothermia. Always choose safety in any season!

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