Safety and Wellness

Help Prevent Cold Stress

As the seasons change and cold weather approaches, it’s time to think about the potential dangers of exposure to cold temperatures. Prevent cold weather-related injuries by dressing in three light layers:

n An inner layer for wicking moisture away from your body.

n A middle layer to insulate you from the cold.

n An outer layer that repels wind, snow, and rain that can be removed, as needed.

Also, protect your hands, neck, and face, and wear warm, waterproof shoes or boots. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause your body to lose heat, which puts you at risk of hypothermia or frostbite. Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed to extreme cold for long periods and the skin and underlying tissue freeze. The fingers, toes, and feet are most commonly affected, but other extremities such as the nose, ears, and cheeks can also develop frostbite.

At the first sign of frostbite, get out of the cold. Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes. Do not rub the frostbitten area because it will cause more damage. Warm the affected area using body heat or by immersing in warm water; avoid using a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming because direct heat can burn damaged tissue. Drink warm beverages to replace lost fluids. In case of severe frostbite, seek medical attention.

For more winter safety tips, see the following resources:

n Safety talk module in the Safety Toolkit:

n Safety Depends on Me videos:

n Safety resources in the Safety Toolkit:

n Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

n Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website: