Winter has returned to Sioux Falls, and that means that if you work outside, you will probably get cold. However, that doesn’t mean that you should get cold enough to endanger your health and your life. Your employer should make sure that you are protected as much as possible form the elements by providing you with the appropriate protective equipment and training.
After living in South Dakota for at least one winter, you probably already know how to deal with the cold, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t benefit from a refresher. If you are new to the area, you may find the information below particularly useful.
Keeping safe in cold weather
If your employment requires you to work outside regardless of the cold, you may want to follow the tips below:
- Expose as little skin to the elements as possible. Wear gloves, a hat, thick socks and good shoes or boots to protect your hands, feet, face and ears.
- Choose loosely fitting clothes that don’t unnecessarily restrict your movement. Tight clothes restrict blood flow to our extremities.
- Eat high-calorie and warm foods, and drink warm beverages to keep your insides warm and give your body the energy it needs to remain warm.
- On extremely cold days, you should take frequent breaks indoors in a dry place where you have access to heat to warm yourself.
- You need energy to keep your body warm. Avoid getting too fatigued or exhausted.
- Work in pairs so you can keep an eye on each other.
Just as there are heat-induced illnesses to watch for in the summer, there are cold-induced illnesses to watch for in the winter months.
The signs of hypothermia
One of the primary dangers to outdoor workers in the cold is hypothermia. You and your co-workers should watch yourselves and each other for the following symptoms and signs:
- The early stages of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination and fatigue. If you experience disorientation and confusion, your condition is becoming life threatening.
- If you reach the later stage of hypothermia, you stop shivering, your pulse and breathing slow and you may lose consciousness. In addition, your skin turns blue and your pupils dilate.
If you exhibit any of these signs, you may want to get to a doctor as soon as possible before your co-workers are the ones attempting to revive you. If you do suffer from hypothermia, you may need time away from work to recover. In that case, you may apply for workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical bills and provide you with a portion of your income during your recovery. You may also need other benefits depending on the circumstances.