Tips for Weathering the Winter Season
Prevention is key to avoid cold-related illnesses such as hypothermia and frostbite. If you work or spend significant time outdoors, use these safety tips to protect yourself during the winter season.
Monitor the Wind Chill
The wind chill temperature takes into account both air temperature and wind speed and is the measurement of the actual effect of the cold on exposed skin. Check the "feels like" temperature on the weather app on your digital device.

Use the National Weather Service's wind chill factor chart to understand the risks of frostbite so you dress appropriately and prepare yourself for the cold.
Bundle Up
Wear several layers of clothing, including:

  • Insulated hat to cover head/ears
  • Scarf or knit mask to cover face/mouth
  • Water resistant coat and gloves
  • Water resistant and insulated boots
  • Several layers of loose fitting clothing
  • 1-2 pairs of thick socks
Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers hold heat better than cotton. To avoid perspiration, remove extra layers when you feel warm.
If you see signs of cold stress, move indoors and change into dry clothing. In case of frostbite or trench foot, place affected areas in warm (not hot) water. If you suspect hypothermia, call 911.
Know the Signs of Cold Stress
Workers should be trained to know the signs of cold-related illnesses:

Frostbite: a burning sensation, numbness, and pale, gray, or blistered skin

Hypothermia: shallow breathing, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, or lack of coordination

Trench foot: numbness, leg cramps, reddened skin that becomes pale and swollen
Provide warm areas, warm liquids, and frequent breaks
Employers should provide outdoor workers more frequent breaks and a warm, dry area to retreat to from the winter elements. Safe heating systems should be used at all times. Charcoal, gasoline, or diesel heaters and generators produce carbon monoxide and should not be used indoors. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an extremely dangerous odorless gas that can be lethal.
Never Work Alone
When working outdoors, particularly in the winter months, workers should never do so alone. By creating a buddy system that places workers in pairs, workers trained in understanding the signs of cold stress can watch out for one another.
Protect Children During the Cold Weather Months
Our friends at the Mount Sinai Institute for Exposomic Research have developed an infographic to help caregivers determine if it is too cold to play outside. Click here to download the infographic.
The information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care professional regarding your medical care.
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