As temperatures drop and snow begins to blanket many parts of the US, safety awareness naturally turns towards keeping warm and away from hydration. That's been true for ORR Safety as we just recently examined the importance of layering your clothing in the winter. However, when you combine those recommendations with the fact that winter brings with it strenuous activities like shoveling snow and makes normal work in outdoor jobsites all the more difficult, perspiration becomes a major concern and hydration becomes a major element of cold weather safety.
In a previous article, Don’t Freeze Up, we discussed first aid techniques for hypothermia and frostbite in detail. The topic reminded me of my favorite Ben Franklin quote: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The cost of preventing trouble is always outweighed by the cost of repairs after trouble strikes, especially in the world of worker safety. Proper layering technique can help you make the most of your cold weather clothing and prevent dangerous exposure. It does this by helping maintain your core body heat and by protecting you from cold air and freezing snow.
When I was a police officer in Los Angeles County a few years ago, the state mandated I take regular first aid training for common scenarios like CPR and less common scenarios like delivering a baby out in the field. When I moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in the winter of 2013, I discovered Californian training had left me ill-prepared for a very specific situation: the winter of 2013. Thankfully, my friends and neighbors quickly taught me the finer points of surviving a Twin Cities snow storm, stressing the importance of proper cold-weather first aid. They told me that extreme cold is something to take seriously and first aid could save a life—including my own. The same is true for workers braving the elements all over the country this winter.