Cold Weather Safety Refresher
Winter is in full force across many parts of the world. The east coast of the United States is currently feeling the wrath of a Bomb Cyclone. With the call for emergency responders in those areas most likely increasing during the storm, it is never a bad time to review cold weather safety tips.
Environmental cold can affect any worker exposed to cold air temperatures and puts workers at risk of cold stress. As wind speed increases, it causes the cold air temperature to feel even colder, increasing the risk of cold stress to exposed workers, especially those working outdoors. In regions that are not used to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for “cold stress.”
Types of Cold Stress
Trench foot is a non-freezing injury of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. It can occur in temperatures as high as 60°F if feet are constantly wet. Injury occurs because wet feet lose heat 25-times faster than dry feet.
What are they symptoms of trench foot?
Reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.
Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body, and in 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.
What are the symptoms of frostbite?
Reddened skin develops gray/white patches in the fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firm/hard, and blisters may occur in the affected areas.
Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Exposure to cold temperatures causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or immersion in cold water.
What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
An important mild symptom of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering, which should not be ignored. Although shivering indicates that the body is losing heat, it also helps the body to rewarm itself. Moderate to severe symptoms of hypothermia are loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slow, unconsciousness and possibly death. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know what is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Information for this post was taken from the OSHA.gov website. Complete list of links below:
- Cold Stress . (OSHA)
- NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Cold Stress. National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH)
- OSHA’s Cold Stress Card
Cold Weather Research
In case you are wondering if anyone is researching the human performance of firefighters in cold weather environments. The answer would be yes. Some of the PhD student’s at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) are researching what we go thru. You can find more here.
Cold Weather Rehab
Rehab is an important part of any fire service operation. However, the cold weather makes rehab extremely important to protect firefighters and get them back in service as quickly as possible. The International Association of Fire Fighters has a great Rehab Presentation that you can download.
Picket Anchor System, Rope Rescue
Pickets have many different uses in the rescue side of the fire service.
Picket Anchor Systems
Pickets have many different uses in the rescue side of the fire service. Below are the basics of pickets used as anchor for rope rescue.
- Pickets are typically made of 1″ diameter rolled steel that is 4′ long.
- The pickets should be driven 2′-3′ into the soil (2′ in stable soil and up to 3′ in unstable soil) at a 15 degree angle away from the planned load.
When connecting the pickets, use a 20′ piece of webbing or 1/2″ utility rope. Connect the base of the read picket with a clove hitch and wrap the webbing or rope to the top of the forward picket up to 6 times (finish with another clove hitch). Use a piece of wood or rebar or another picket inserted between the wrap to twist the pickets. Tension until the forward picket starts to move, then back off one half turn and drive stake into the ground.
Large Animal Rescue
Large Animal Rescue can happen anywhere. Police horses are commonly used all over the United States for many different events.
Large Animal Rescue
Many departments may believe that their response areas are not rural so a Large Animal Rescue (LAR) call may never happen. However, large animals are transported throughout the country in urban, suburban, and rural areas. This doesn’t mean that every department needs to run out purchase all the LAR equipment and send all their personnel tech training. It means you should have an awareness level of large animals, the trailers they are transported in, and the equipment used in LAR.
Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER TM)
Below is the mission statement of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue:
TLAER, Inc. works to provide education and outreach nationwide and internationally for emergency responders (whether local, state or organizational) in safer and more efficient ways to prevent prepare and respond to large animal incidents on our highways, communities and facilities, based on cutting-edge research and development.
TLAER courses are offered at the Awareness level (interested personnel from all organizations and response levels,) Operations level (hands-on, intense training events with live horses intended for live responders,) and Technician level (for USAR teams only.)
- Becker Sling
- The glide mat system
- Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (Website)
- Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (Facebook Page)
- Understanding the Horse Trailer Rig
- Häst Large Animal Rescue Equipment
LAR News Articles
- Medicine Hat firefighters over the weekend helped save a Clydesdale horse
- Lexington police horse rescued after leg trapped in open utility hole
Updated LAR Rescue:
The Facebook post below is from a Large Animal Rescue where the hind leg of the horse was stuck in a hole.
HydraFusion Struts used as ram for a dash roll?
The HydraFusion Struts were a game changer when PARATECH released the lifting/stabilizing device a few years back at FDIC. Rescuers can lift up to 10 U.S. Tons (9 metric tons) and to stabilize up to 20,000 lbs. with the tool. However, PARATECH’s HydraFusion Struts are not limited to just those two functions. The HydraFusion Struts can move metal!
I first ran across pictures of HydraFusion Struts used as ram from pictures that Brock Archer (Advanced Extrication) and Randy Schmitz ( Founder/Owner of Schmitz Mittz). Last weekend at Crunchtime Extrication, Paratech had one of their trailers at the training event and I had the chance to try a dash roll with a HydraFusion Strut. Take a look at the video below.
A few quick points:
- You can put the HydraFusion Strut in place to reduce any dash movement during reliefs cuts.
- HydraFusion Strut are portable and can be moved quickly to a vehicle hundreds of feet of the roadway.
- Depending on the length of the HydraFusion Strut used, strut extensions can be used to optimize dash movement.
- Using a HydraFusion Strut as a ram is an option, not always the option.