Cold Work

 In 2020, Tip of the Week

According to, this should be a “La Nina” winter, linked here. That means that temperatures should be at or slightly above normal. There might not be much snowfall in the northeast section of the US. However, it is still November, and it is not nearly as warm as it was a few months ago. For those of us who work outdoors this can be hazardous. Working in the cold can be as difficult as working in the heat. Any extreme temperatures can have harmful effects, including frostbite and hypothermia. To help you work more effectively, and safely, in the cold, here are some tips.

When temperatures drop, if you can plan your work for a time of day when it is warmer, please do so. Try to avoid over-exhaustion, which can further deplete muscles that are trying to keep the body warm. Prepare a warm dry place where you and your workers can take frequent breaks.

Encourage your workers to drink warm beverages (caffeine free is better) and if possible, encourage your workers to eat warm, carbohydrate rich meals, like pasta.

Dress for the weather, with hats, gloves, scarves and layers of warmth that can be adjusted as weather conditions indicate. Remember that with additional layers of chemical protective clothing that do not breathe, even in the cold, someone can still have heat stress!

Get your first aid kit ready for the cold by including a thermometer or means of monitoring body temperatures. Have a blanket or two handy.

Assign your workers to work in groups of at least two or more. Using the buddy system will allow them to watch out for each other. If one observes the other showing any signs or symptoms of over exposure to the cold, they can get them to a warmer place to take a break or call for help if the symptoms are extreme. This is especially important if some of your workers take medications that might affect their ability to stay warm, or have certain physical conditions like diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease, which can also affect their ability to maintain their body temperatures.

Learn the danger signs of cold-related illnesses, which can include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If you see someone with these symptoms, take their temperature. If it is 95 degrees or less, they are in hypothermia and need medical attention immediately!

If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows:

  • Get the victim into a warm room or shelter.
  • If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it.
  • Slowly warm the body, so as not to cause undue shock, starting with the center of the body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-you can use an electric blanket, if available. Or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
  • Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do NOT give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • If the person appears not to be breathing, provide CPR.

 For more information, we recommend the following links to cold weather safety tips from OSHA, and the CDC, linked to the right.

What are you thankful for? Even during 2020, with pandemics, toilet paper shortages, forced home schooling, some of us may have found things to be thankful for.  Share your thoughts by replying to this email. We will share them in an upcoming newsletter!



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