Welcome to AmericanCPR.com!

Image of Google+ icon signifying a link to Google+ page Image of Twitter icon signifying a link to Twitter page Image of YouTube icon signifying a link to YouTube page Image of Facebook icon signifying a link to Facebook page

frostbite

  • Recognize Frostbite

    We share a bit about Frostbite last year and want to remind all that it is a danger this time of year.

    Don’t let Jack Frost nip at your nose. Protect yourself from frostbite with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    thermometer

    Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

    At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

    • White or grayish-yellow skin area.
    • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
    • Numbness.

    As soon as you detect the symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. If immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:

    • Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
    • Don’t rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
    • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes as this increases the damage.
    • Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
    • Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

    Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. For more information on frostbite, visit the CDC’s Frostbite page.

    Also read:

    Cold Stress & Related Illness and How can cold stress be prevented?

  • How can cold stress be prevented?

    cold-stress-2We've talked about Hypothermia & Frostbite, but how does this affect the workplace?

    Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide workers with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards, including cold stress, which are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to them (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970). Employers should, therefore, train workers on the hazards of the job and safety measures to use, such as engineering controls and safe work practices, that will protect workers’ safety and health.

    Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.Cold-Work

    Employers should provide engineering controls. For example, radiant heaters may be used to warm workers in outdoor security stations. If possible, shield work areas from drafts or wind to reduce wind chill.

    Employers should use safe work practices. For example, it is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather. Employers therefore, can provide plenty of warm sweetened liquids to workers.  Avoid alcoholic drinks. If possible, employers can schedule heavy work during the warmer part of the day. Employers can assign workers to tasks in pairs (buddy system), so that they can monitor each other for signs of cold stress. Workers can be allowed to interrupt their work, if they are extremely uncomfortable. Employers should give workers frequent breaks in warm areas. Acclimatize new workers and those returning after time away from work, by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment. Safety measures, such as these, should be incorporated into the relevant health and safety plan for the workplace.

    Learn more: Cold Stress & Related IllnessCold-stress

  • Frostbite

    While Spring may be right around the corner, it is still bitter cold in many places... Do you know how to recognize, avoid, and treat Frostbite?

    Frostbite is a condition in which skin and the tissue just below the skin freeze

    FrostbiteWhat to look for:  With Frostbite, the skin appears waxy, is cold to the touch or discolored (white, gray, yellow, blue, or flushed) and the person with frostbite will often experience a lack of feeling in the affected area.

    Mild frostbite cases can be treated with gradual warming. Severe cases require medical care to prevent complications.

    How to care for Frostbite / First Aid measures:

    Note: Do not attempt to re-warm the frostbitten area if there is a chance that it might freeze again or if you are close enough to a medical facility to get advanced medical care in place of responder treatment.

    • Check to assure that the scene is safe for you to come to the injured person's aid and the check the person for any more serious or life threatening emergencies.
    • Send someone to CALL 9-1-1 (or the local emergency number).
    • Try to remove wet clothing and any jewelry on or near the affected area.
    • DO NOT rub the affected area - Handle the frostbitten are gently.
    • For minor frostbite, rapidly rewarm the affected part using skin-to-skin contact such as with a warm hand. (warmers may be used cautiously.)
    • Warm gently by soaking affected area in warm water (100°F - 105°F / 37°C - 40°C) until normal color returns and the frostbitten part feels warm.
    • Loosely bandage area with dry, sterile dressing.
    • If fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between the digits to keep them separated.
    • Avoid breaking any blisters.

    hand_body_warmers

  • Cold Stress & Related Illness

    When we discuss Cold Stress, and the related issues of Hypothermia, Frostbite and Trench Foot, the main concerns are:

    • The Causes of Cold Stress
    • Major Risk Factors for Cold Related Stresses
    • Harmful Effects of Cold
    • Preventing Cold related Disorders
    • Safe Work Practices

    Employees who must brave the outdoor conditions face the occupational hazard of exposure to the cold. Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can result in health problems as serious as trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. Workers in such industries as construction, commercial fishing and agriculture need to be especially mindful of the weather, its effects on the body, proper prevention techniques, and treatment of cold-related disorders.

    Causes of Cold Stress

    An individual gains body heat from food and muscular activity and loses it through convection, conduction, radiation and sweating to maintain a constant body temperature. When body temperature drops even a few degrees below its normal temperature of 98.6°F (37°C), the blood vessels constrict, decreasing peripheral blood flow to reduce heat loss from the surface of the skin. Shivering generates heat by increasing the body's metabolic rate.

    The four environmental conditions that cause cold-related stress are low temperatures, high/cool winds, dampness and cold water. Wind chill, a combination of temperature and velocity, is a crucial factor to evaluate when working outside. For example, when the actual air temperature of the wind is 40°F (4°C) and its velocity is 35 mph, the exposed skin receives conditions equivalent to the still-air temperature being 11°F (-11°C)! A dangerous situation of rapid heat loss may arise for any individual exposed to high winds and cold temperatures.

    Major Risk Factors for Cold Related Stresses

    • Wearing inadequate or wet clothing increases the effects of cold on the body.
    • Taking certain drugs or medications such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and medication that inhibits the body's response to the cold or impairs judgment.
    • Having a cold or certain diseases, such as diabetes, heart, vascular, and thyroid problems, may make a person more susceptible to the winter elements.
    • Being a male increases a person's risk to cold-related stresses. Sad, but true, men experience far greater death rates due to cold exposure than women, perhaps due to inherent risk-taking activities, body-fat composition or other physiological differences.
    • Becoming exhausted or immobilized, especially due to injury or entrapment, may speed up the effects of cold weather.
    • Aging -- the elderly are more vulnerable to the effects of harsh winter weather.

    Harmful Effects of Cold

    Trench Foot is caused by long, continuous exposure to a wet, cold environment, or actual immersion in water. Commercial fishermen, who experience these types of cold, wet environments daily, need to be especially cautious.

    Symptoms:

    Symptoms include a tingling and/or itching sensation, burning, pain, and swelling, sometimes forming blisters in more extreme cases.

    Treatment:

    Move individuals with trench foot to a warm, dry area, where the affected tissue can be treated with careful washing and drying, re-warming and slight elevation. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

    Frostbite occurs when the skin tissue actually freezes, causing ice crystals to form between cells and draw water from them, which leads to cellular dehydration. Although this typically occurs at temperatures below 30°F (-1°C), wind chill effects can cause frostbite at above-freezing temperatures.

    Symptoms:

    Initial effects of frostbite include uncomfortable sensations of coldness- tingling, stinging or aching feeling of the exposed area followed by numbness. Ears, fingers, toes, cheeks, and noses are primarily affected. Frostbitten areas appear white and cold to the touch. The appearance of frostbite varies depending on whether re-warming has occurred.

    Deeper frostbite involves freezing of deeper tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.) causing exposed areas to become numb, painless, and hard to the touch.

    Treatment:

    If you suspect frostbite, you should seek medical assistance immediately. Any existing hypothermia should be treated first (See Hypothermia below). Frostbitten parts should be covered with dry, sterile gauze or soft, clean cloth bandages. Do not massage frostbitten tissue because this sometimes causes greater injury. Severe cases may require hospitalization and even amputation of affected tissue. Take measures to prevent further cold injury. If formal medical treatment will be delayed, consult with a licensed health care professional for training on re-warming techniques.

    General Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls to a level where normal muscular and cerebral functions are impaired. While hypothermia is generally associated with freezing temperatures, it may occur in any climate where a person's body temperature falls below normal. For instance, hypothermia is common among the elderly who live in cold houses.

    Symptoms:

    The first symptoms of hypothermia, shivering, an inability to do complex motor functions, lethargy, and mild confusion, occur as the core body temperature decreases to around 95°F (35°C). As body temperature continues to fall, hypothermia becomes more severe. The individual falls into a state of dazed consciousness, failing to complete even simple motor functions. The victim's speech becomes slurred and his or her behavior may become irrational.

    The most severe state of hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 90°F (32°C). As a result, the body moves into a state of hibernation, slowing the heart rate, blood flow, and breathing. Unconsciousness and full heart failure can occur in the severely hypothermic state.

    Treatment:

    Treatment of hypothermia involves conserving the victim's remaining body heat and providing additional heat sources. Specific measures will vary depending upon the severity and setting (field or hospital). Handle hypothermic people very carefully because of the increased irritability of the cold heart. Seek medical assistance for persons suspected of being moderately or severely hypothermic.

    If the person is unresponsive and not shivering, assume he or she is suffering from severe hypothermia. Reduction of heat loss can be accomplished by various means: obtaining shelter, removal of wet clothing, adding layers of dry clothing, blankets, or using a pre-warmed sleeping bag.

    For mildly hypothermic cases or those more severe cases where medical treatment will be significantly delayed, external re-warming techniques may be applied. This includes body-to-body contact (e.g., placing the person in a pre-warmed sleeping bag with a person of normal body temperature), chemical heat packs, or insulated hot water bottles. Good areas to place these packs are the armpits, neck, chest, and groin. It is best to have the person lying down when applying external re-warming. You also may give mildly hypothermic people warm fluids orally, but avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.

    Preventing Cold Related Disorders

    Personal Protective Clothing is perhaps the most important step in fighting the elements is providing adequate layers of insulation from them. Wear at least three layers of clothing:

    -- An outer layer to break the wind and allow some ventilation (like Gore-Tex® or nylon);

    -- A middle layer of wool or synthetic fabric to absorb sweat and retain insulation in a damp environment. Down is a useful lightweight insulator; however, it is ineffective once it becomes wet.

    -- An inner layer of cotton or synthetic weave to allow ventilation.

    Pay special attention to protecting feet, hands, face and head. Warmers are an ideal preventative measure. Up to 40 percent of body heat can be lost when the head is exposed. Footgear should be insulated to protect against cold and dampness. Keep a change of clothing available in case work garments become wet.

    hand_body_warmersEngineering Controls in the workplace through a variety of practices help reduce the risk of cold-related injuries.

    • Use an on-site source of heat, such as air jets, radiant heaters, or contact warm plates.
    • Shield work areas from drafty or windy conditions.
    • Provide a heated shelter for employees who experience prolonged exposure to equivalent wind-chill temperatures of 20°F (-6°C) or less.
    • Use thermal insulating material on equipment handles when temperatures drop below 30°F (-1°C).

    Safe Work Practices, such as changes in work schedules and practices, are necessary to combat the effects of exceedingly cold weather.

    • Allow a period of adjustment to the cold before embarking on a full work schedule.
    • Always permit employees to set their own pace and take extra work breaks when needed.
    • Reduce, as much as possible, the number of activities performed outdoors. When employees must brave the cold, select the warmest hours of the day and minimize activities that reduce circulation.
    • Ensure that employees remain hydrated.
    • Establish a buddy system for working outdoors.
    • Educate employees to the symptoms of cold-related stresses -- heavy shivering, uncomfortable coldness, severe fatigue, drowsiness, or euphoria.
    • Avoid activities, whenever possible that leads to heavy perspiration.
    • Minimize activities that reduce circulation, such as sitting or standing in a cold environment for prolonged periods of time.
    • Keep energy levels up and prevent dehydration by consuming warm, sweet, caffeine-free, nonalcoholic drinks and soup.
    • Avoid working alone in very cold weather use a buddy system.

    The quiet symptoms of potentially deadly cold-related ailments often go undetected until the victim's health is endangered. Knowing the facts on cold exposure and following a few simple guidelines can ensure that this season is a safe and healthy one.

    • Older workers, or those with certain medical problems, need to be extra alert about the effects of cold stress. Check with a doctor about special needs and precautions.
    • Avoid using alcohol or drugs that may impair judgment while working in a cold environment. Hypothermia commonly occurs in association with alcohol abuse. In addition to its effects on judgment, alcohol increases heat loss through vasodilatation and may impair shivering.
    • Educate new workers on the hazards of working in a cold environment.
    • Prevent chapped skin by the frequent application of protective lotions.
    • Stay in good physical condition.

    With a little caution and common sense, you can avoid cold illnesses.

    • 29CFR 1926.20(b)-Accident Reduction,
    • 29CFR 1926.21- Safety Training & Education
    • 29CFR 1926.20(a)-Unsafe Working Conditions

4 Item(s)