Cold stress is a very real thing!

Posted by Professional Tree Climber on 2/25/2015 to Climbing News
Cold Stress

Did you know that mountaineers wear face masks not only to keep their face protected from the elements but also to help warm the air before they breathe it in? These mask form a barrier that can trap air and warm it with body heat which is then 
breathed in. Why not just breathe the cold air you ask? When cold air is brought into the lungs it can cool the blood by allowing cold air to be taken in by the red blood cells. This cooler blood can make the heart work harder in adverse conditions.

Cold stress is a very real thing to those that work outside during the winter months. Just as heat stress is dangerous in the summer on those extremely hot days; cold stress can cause hypothermia on days that hover right around the freezing mark just as easily as they can cause it in single digit temperatures. If you are sweating and the temperature is below freezing you need to take caution. Change out those wet clothes into drier clothes to help maintain a steady body temperature.

Early signs and symptoms of heat loss include:
  • Shivering (first, most common symptom)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion and disorientation
Late symptoms of heat loss include:
  • No shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
If enough heat loss occurs, signs and symptoms of the resulting hypothermia include:
  • Cool skin
  • Slower, irregular breathing
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Severe shaking
  • Rigid muscles
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory lapses
By using these symptoms above an employer and employee can easily monitor those around them for signs of cold stress. If you have any of these symptoms, take a break and warm your body. Make sure to always have a dry change of clothes on hand in and to always be prepared in cold weather.

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