Livestock are pictured outdoors during winter weather conditions in a photo from the Ohio State University Extension office. Officials from OSU are encouraging those who work in agriculture, or other outdoor-based professions, to take additional steps to stay safe and avoid cold-related illnesses this winter. (Photo submitted)
Editor’s note: The following release is supplied by the Ohio State Extension Office.
Warm weather turned to cooler, wet, and muddy, and now cold weather has arrived to stay for a few months.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) documents that there are more deaths in the United States due to cold weather exposure (hypothermia) than hot weather exposure (hyperthermia) each year. The CDC has also tracked an average of 1,300 deaths per year in the U.S. due to hypothermia.
Many jobs are affected little with the change in temperature outside, but others do not have that luxury.
Occupations such as agriculture – and others – work outside a great deal no matter what the conditions. Helpful reminders are often beneficial to keep safe while accomplishing these tasks.
Everyone responds to cold weather and temperature extremes very differently.
Individuals become accustomed to what they are “used to” and what they feel they can tolerate. What Alaskans think of as cold in January may be quite different than what we perceive as cold in the lower 48 states.
Specific contributing factors may also affect a person’s susceptibility to cold temperatures such as getting wet, exhaustion, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and general poor physical condition.
General good practices for working in cold weather include:
Planning routine maintenance on outdoor equipment for warmer seasons;
Letting others know where you will be working and when you will return;
Dressing in layers so clothing may be added or taken off in specific instances;
Keeping dry and keep extra dry clothes, gloves, and shoes/boots nearby;
Protecting the ears, face, hands, feet, and head. Extremities away from the body core have less blood flow and are more difficult to keep warm;
Taking breaks in warm locations;
Staying hydrated. Drinking water is not often thought of as an issue in cold weather but is just as important.
In some cases, cold-related illness and injuries will occur. It is important to know the symptoms so outdoor workers can watch themselves and others for signs.
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. Symptoms include shivering, fatigue, confusion and disorientation.
Illness caused by hypothermia can range from mild to severe, depending on the symptoms experienced.
Frostbite occurs when actual freezing of tissue happens.
Symptoms of frostbite are numbness, stinging or pain, along with the top layer of skin feeling hard and rubbery.
Frostbite can be avoided by wearing appropriate clothing and seeking medical attention if symptoms remain after 30 minutes.
Trench foot may also occur when the feet lose heat due to extended periods of cold or wet conditions, causing the tissue to become damaged.
Symptoms of trench foot may include swelling and pain in the feet.
This condition differs from frostbite in that the skin does not actually freeze.
Trench foot can be avoided by keeping the feet warm and dry.
Cold weather injuries are preventable.
Those who work outdoors are encouraged to take the time to make the necessary plans for themselves and their workers to stay warm and dry and safely get the job done.
For more information, those interested should call Wayne Dellinger at the Union County Extension Office at (937) 644-8117 or email email@example.com.