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Preparing for Cold Weather With Sarah Templin

Cold weather is upon us! We have been fortunate the last few months to experience a relatively mild winter, but the forecast is calling for bitter weather by the end of the week. Are you, your staff, and your family prepared?

In cold, wet conditions, common dangers include slips and falls, as well as vehicle accidents. Taking simple precautions can prevent accidents and injuries.

Preventing Slips:

Areas that may become slick and require extra caution include stairs, ramps, tile floors, parking lots and metal parts of equipment.

· Have an excellent snow and ice removal program in place.

· Place non-skid floor mats and caution signs in slippery, high traffic areas.

· Use traction devices that strap onto shoes when conditions require them.

· Use the right shoes. Anti-slip soles are essential. Shoe soles need to have thin cuts, often called siping, that disperse water and grip the ground.

Driving Safety:

Slips can happen when entering and exiting your vehicle, so be cautious. Use a three-point stance when getting in and out of your vehicle. Use a grab-bar or door frame for stability.

Be aware that the vehicle itself can lose traction, causing uncontrolled skids.

When roads are slick, slow down, leave extra following distance between yourself and other cars and do not make sudden vehicular movements.

If you begin to skid, turn the wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to go. Ease your foot off the accelerator—Do not hit the brakes.

· Know the weather conditions you will encounter and plan ahead.

· Inspect your vehicle for proper tires and other winter driving gear.

· Be sure that chains and cold weather gear are on board and ready for use.

· Assume that roads, bridges and exits are icy, and be ready for them.

· Keep lights, windows and mirrors clean. This is especially important in low visibility situations such as darkness, ice or fog.

If pulling over due to an emergency, increase your visibility to passing traffic. Activate the vehicle’s hazard warning lights, wear your safety vest, set up a warning triangle or flares and assume that ongoing traffic does not see you.

Cold Stress

Cold Stress is another issue one can encounter in low temperatures. Do you know the signs?

· Freezing or near-freezing weather

· Strong winds

· Being wet

· Working for long periods in extreme cold

· Working in poorly insulated or poorly heated areas

· Being unaccustomed to freezing weather

Preventive Measures

· Monitor yourself and your coworkers for signs of cold stress.

· Wear appropriate clothing, such as waterproof and insulated boots, hats, and multiple layers of loose clothing. Particularly protect all extremities.

· Always carry cold weather gear, such as extra socks, gloves, hats, jackets, blankets, water, food, and a thermos of hot liquid.

· Carry a change of clothes and use them if clothes get wet.

· Limit the amount of time spent in cold, wet environments. Move into warm, dry locations during breaks.

· Do not touch cold metal surfaces with bare skin.

Cold Stress Conditions


Description: A medical emergency in which the body cannot warm itself

Causes: Lengthy exposure to freezing weather

Symptoms: Shivering at the onset or not later, fatigue, confusion, disorientation, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, or loss of consciousness

First aid: Remove wet clothes, keep the victim warm and dry with blankets, and give the victim warm drinks (if conscious). Monitor consciousness and get medical help.


Description: Damage to body tissue, mostly in the extremities

Causes: Lengthy exposure to freezing weather

Symptoms: Skin that is aching, tingling, stinging, bluish, pale, or waxy

First aid: Immerse the skin in warm but not hot water or, if that is not possible, warm very gently with body heat, without rubbing or pressure. Get medical help.

Trench foot:

Description: Dying skin because the body has cut off circulation to the feet

Causes: Lengthy exposure of feet to wet conditions (with temperatures up to 60°F)

Symptoms: Leg cramps or redness, numbness, swelling, bruising, blisters, ulcers, or gangrene on feet

First aid: Dry feet and do not walk on them. Seek medical help.


Description: Damage to capillary beds in the skin

Causes: Repeated, prolonged exposure to temperatures between freezing and 60°F

Symptoms: Redness, inflammation, itching, blistering, ulceration

First aid: Slowly warm the skin, do not scratch, use an anti-itch cream, and cover blisters and ulcers.

No matter if you’re enjoying winter activities, feeding livestock, loading vehicles or shoveling snow It is imperative that one prepares for cold weather, particularly in Wyoming where weather can drastically change at a moment’s notice. Big Horn Co-op can help get you prepared for rugged weather!

As always, stay safe out there!

Sarah Templin