Extreme Cold: Health Conditions & Work
People who live or work in conditions that expose them to cold environments are susceptible to dangerous health issues. It doesn't have to be extreme cold for you to feel the effects of what's known as "cold stress." Staying alert and aware of the signs of cold-related problems and knowing what to do if they arise, are important in avoiding permanent damage, particularly for those who are working outdoors.
The most well known health complication due to the cold is hypothermia. Your body is always producing heat, but in cold temperatures, you may be losing heat faster than your body can make it, thus lowering your core temperature. Early symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and confusion or disorientation. Getting yourself into a warm environment is the best solution. Remove any wet clothing and wrap in a blanket if one is available. Skin-to-skin contact while under blankets is the quickest way to raise your body temperature.
If your skin has been exposed to the cold for too long, you may get frostbite. When body tissue freezes, it starts to lose feeling as circulation is reduced. Frostbit can cause tissue death if it goes untreated. Aching and blue-looking skin are other signs to watch out for. Frostbite can be very serious, but is preventable. Most often it's caused by not dressing properly. If you're out in the cold, be sure to wear proper attire.