Cold Stress

What is cold stress?

Cold stress is a very serious condition that occurs when the human body cannot maintain a safe operating temperature. The effects of cold temperatures, wind chill, humidity and others can cause cold stress in just about any type of climate on earth, including desert and tropical climates.

What are the effects of cold stress on the human body?

1. Hypothermia: when the body loses heat faster than it can replace it; allowing the body to cool to less than 95˚F
2. Frostbite: when temperatures freeze the skin and underlying tissue (usually the extremities such as fingers, toes, hands, feet, nose, ears) of the body
3. Trench foot (aka immersion foot): when the foot is exposed to prolonged periods of time to wet and cold temperatures up to 60˚F

What controls may be used to protect yourself from cold stress injuries?

1. Integrate frequent breaks from exposure to wind and cold temperatures when working in the cold
2. Wear adequate clothing while working in cold temperatures
3. Change out any clothes that become wet immediately
4. Do not work for long periods of time with wet feet
5. Report any hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot suspicions immediately
6. Report redness of skin, swelling, numbness or blisters immediately

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