Northfield Township Tim Rueckert
ROAD DISTRICT Highway Commissioner

Preventing Cold Stress

Protecting Against Hypothermia


When your body temperature drops even a few degrees below normal (which is about 98.6°F), you can begin to shiver uncontrollably, become weak, drowsy, disoriented, unconscious, even fatally ill. This loss of body heat is known as cold stress or hypothermia. Persons who work outdoors, or who enjoy outdoor activities should learn how to protect against loss of body heat. The following guidelines can help you keep your body warm and avoid the dangerous consequences of hypothermia.

Dress In Layers

Outdoors, indoors, in mild weather or in cold, it pays to dress in layers. Layering your clothes allows you to adjust what you’re wearing to suit the temperature conditions. In cold weather, wear cotton, polypropylene or lightweight wool next to the skin, and wool layers over your undergarments. In warm weather, stick to loose-fitting cotton clothing. For outdoor activities, choose undergarments made of waterproof, wind resistant fabrics such as nylon. And since a great deal of body heat is lost through the head, always wear a hat for added protection.

Keep Dry

Water chills your body far more rapidly than air or wind. Even in the heat of summer, falling into a 40°F lake can be fatal in a matter of minutes. Always take along a dry set of clothes whenever you are working (or playing) outdoors. Wear waterproof boots in damp or snowy weather, and always pack rain gear (even if the forecast calls for sunny skies).

Take A Companion

The effects of hypothermia can be gradual, and often go unnoticed until it’s to late. If you know you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time, take along a companion. (At the very least, let someone know where you will be and at what tome you expect to return.) Ask your companion to check you frequently for overexposure to the cold -do the same for your companion. Check for shivering, slurred speech, mental confusion, drowsiness, and weakness. If either of you shows any of the above signs, get indoors as soon as possible and warm up.