[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                     January 14, 2011

Precautions can prevent cold-weather injuries

Cold weather can bring added challenges to keeping safe. At Fort McCoy, installation safety personnel said some of the seasonal issues members of the work force encounter are slips and falls, parking lot accidents and, for people who train or work outside, increased exposure to inclement weather.
PHOTO: Spc. Rico Quintero uses a gaitor — Army-issued cold- weather-gear — to cover his mouth and ears to keep the frigid weather off of his face. Photo by Tom Michele
Spc. Rico Quintero uses a gaitor — Army-issued cold- weather-gear — to cover his mouth and ears to keep the frigid weather off of his face. Quintero is with the 391st Engineer Company, an Idaho Army Reserve unit preparing to deploy in support of Operation New Dawn. (Photo by Tom Michele)

Deb Heise-Clark, a Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office (ISO) safety specialist, said the top cold-weather hazards civilian members of the Fort McCoy work force face are slips and falls.

Changing winter conditions can make sidewalks, parking lots and roadways dangerous for walking or traveling, Heise-Clark said.

“People who walk with their hands in their pockets are at greater risk of losing their balance and falling than people who wear gloves, and keep their hands out of their pockets,” she said. “People also should be careful when getting into and out of vehicles. Keeping your shoulders parallel to the vehicle will allow you to hold onto the door and retain your balance if you slip.”

Keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice is key to helping reduce slips and falls, she said. A sand/salt mix for use is available through the Directorate of Public Works.

Motorists also should take extra precautions to reduce the risk of parking-lot accidents. Heise-Clark said many accidents occur in parking lots because motorists don’t completely clear snow and ice from their windows and windshields before moving their vehicles.

Cold-weather injuries

For a summary of some of the more common cold-weather maladies, chilblains, immersion foot/trench foot, frostnip, frostbite, hypothermia, and dehydration, click here.

Another winter danger is people who park incorrectly because the lines between the parking stalls are not clearly visible, Heise-Clark said. This increases the risk they may side-swipe other parked vehicles or can’t see oncoming vehicles clearly when backing up.

John Christy of the Troop Medical Clinic (TMC) said military personnel who work or train outdoors face many of the same risks as their civilian counterparts.

Because of training or work responsibilities, however, Soldiers may be out in the elements for longer periods so they should dress properly and maintain proper hydration, he said.

Military leaders should identify warming areas where Soldiers can take a break from the cold temperatures, as necessary.
All personnel should be knowledgeable about the different types of cold-weather injuries and how to recognize, prevent and treat/seek treatment for injuries.

Military personnel who believe they have suffered a cold-weather injury should see the TMC staff or their personal health provider. For more information, contact the TMC at 608-388-3025.

Federal civilian employees at Fort McCoy who believe they have suffered a cold-weather injury should visit the Occupational Health Clinic, building 1679. For more information, call the clinic at 608-388-2414/3209.

Fort McCoy civilian contracted employees who suffer cold-weather injuries should follow their organization’s procedures/protocols to address care of an injury.

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