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Cold Weather Emergencies

Hypothermia is a serious condition when a person’s body temperature drops too low. While the frosty air of winter is invigorating, it can also post a serious threat to your employees’ whether they are indoors or outside. Lower body temperatures can impair vital organs. When cold affects the body, people have trouble thinking clearly, talking properly, or moving well. They may not realize what is happening and thus may not be able to take steps to warm up or ask for help. Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized hazards, including cold stress hazards, that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm in the workplace.

If you see any of these warning signs of hypothermia, call 911:

Early Signs:

Cold feet or hands

Puffy or swollen face

Pale skin

Shivering (although people with hypothermia do not always shiver)

Slower speech or slurring words

Acting sleepy, being angry or confused

Late Signs:

Slow/clumsy movement, trouble walking

Stiff, jerky arm or leg movements

Slow, irregular heartbeat

Slow, shallow breathing

Loss of consciousness

Once you have called 911; then do the following:

Remove the person out of the cold, wet environment

Remove wet clothing and cover with dry blankets

Offer something warm to drink (no caffeinated beverages)

Monitor breathing and level of consciousness

Avoid heating pad or hot-water bath

To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers, wear a jacket with a waterproof and windproof outer shell, cover with blankets, and avoid alcohol. Enjoy the cold weather responsibly. For further information, go to:

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