By Amy Nelson, WCF Insurance – Take these precautions to ensure you have a safe winter season.

The Basics

  • Get an earlier than usual start and plan for the trip to take longer than normal.
  • Clear your entire vehicle of snow. Snow left on the roof and hood can easily end up on the windshield or rear window, obstructing your view.
  • Clear ice off all windows and side mirrors. Clearing just a peephole will get you out of the driveway faster, but will also obstruct your line of vision.

Driving and Walking

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are meant for ideal (i.e., dry) conditions; adjust your speed down during slick weather. This is even true for four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Never pass a snowplow on the right.
  • Do not use cruise control in cold or wet weather. Tapping on your brakes to disengage can cause you to slip and slide.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump them. Keep constant, firm pressure on the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
  • If you start to skid, take your foot off the pedal and steer in the direction you want to the vehicle to go.
  • Wear shoes or boots that provide good traction on snow and ice, such as rubber and neoprene soles. Avoid plastic and leather soles.
  • Be extremely careful when entering and exiting your vehicle. If possible, swing your legs around and place both feet on the pavement before you attempt to stand. Use your vehicle for support.

Frostbite

The effects of frostbite include: frozen deep layers of skin and tissue; pale, waxy-white skin color; skin becomes hard and numb; usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears and nose.

What should be done?

  • Move the person to a warm dry area
  • Remove any wet or tight clothing
  • DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue
  • Slowly warm the tissue. Warming takes about 25-40 minutes.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is what happens when normal body temperature drops to or below 95°F. Symptoms include fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering, cool blush skin, slurred speech, clumsy movements, and irritable, irrational or confused behavior.

What should be done?

  • Call for emergency help
  • Move the person to a warm, dry area and remove any wet clothing and replace with warm, dry clothing.
  • Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks. Avoid caffeinated drinks.
  • Have the person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat. If they are unable to do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck, and head areas. DO NOT rub the person’s body or place them in warm water bath. This may stop their heart.
  • If the person is hypothermic because of water, DO NOT remove any clothing. The layer of trapped water closest to the body provides a layer of insulation that slows the loss of heat.stabilityonsnowandicepenguinsafetyposter

How to Protect Workers

  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help the worker.
  • Train the workforce about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin (polypropylene).
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
  • Perform work during the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.