As we approach the cold weather months, it is time to begin to think about steps to take to remain healthy and active outdoors by preventing cold weather injuries.
Remember that cold weather injuries can begin anytime the temperature is below 60 degrees. If feet become wet, immersion foot can occur with prolonged exposure to temperatures between 32 and 60 degrees.
Chillblain can also occur with prolonged exposure of the skin to these temperatures, particularly if the skin is damp or during high humidity. As the temperature drops below freezing, frostbite, or freezing of the body’s tissues can occur.
Last, in any cold weather environment, a drop in the body’s core temperature, or hypothermia, can occur. This can be a life-threatening condition and requires quick recognition and possible emergency medical care.
Most cold weather injuries can be prevented by following a few basic measures.
• Maintain adequate hydration and healthy diet
• Remember the acronym COLD regarding clothing when outdoors
o Clean: Keep clothing clean
o Overdressing: Avoid overdressing
o Layers: Dress in layers and keep it loose
o Dry: Keep clothing dry.
• Wear gloves when handling equipment and approved gloves when handling petroleum, oil or lubricant products.
• Learn to recognize early symptoms of cold weather injury and first aid treatments
For details about the prevention, recognition and treatment of cold weather injuries refer to Army Regulation 31-70, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Web site http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/HIOCWI/ or call the Environmental Health Department of Kenner Army Health Clinic at (804) 734-9249 or 734-9014 to request cold weather training or posters and handouts on risk management guidelines.