Fire fighters already have a tough time battling fires, but adding freezing temperatures, wind, and ice can make the job even tougher.
So, the next time you find yourself working in frigid temps just remember the acronym COLD.
* Keep it Clean—The dirtier clothing is, the less it will protect against cold weather.
* Avoid Overheating—Firefighters who overheat and sweat excessively ultimately will be more susceptible to hypothermia.
* Wear it Loose and in Layers—Air insulation between the layers of clothing is the most effective insulation. It also allows for adjusting the amount of clothing if conditions warrant it.
* Keep it Dry—Water causes cooling 25 times faster than dry air. Replace wet clothing when extended operations are required in cold weather.
During the winter months, make sure you protect yourself by having all the protective gear that you need. Pack extra socks and gloves and have them available at fire scenes. Boots should be taken off after each incident — wiped out and allowed to dry.
To protect yourself from frostbite you can do the following:
* Check on each other regularly
* Wear appropriate clothing and wind protection
* Cover exposed flesh if possible
* Avoid sweating and stay active
* Work in groups of two
* Have a warm shelter for rehab available
If you have to work for an extended period in snowy conditions, please be mindful of snow blindness and sun burn. Fire fighters should wear protective eyewear or goggles and use a sunscreen that contains a 15 sun protection factor (SPF).
Rehabilitation remains an essential element on the incident scene to prevent more serious conditions such as hypothermia from occurring. Accordingly, the IAFF has produced the Emergency Scene Rehabilitation Manual and curriculum materials to better educate and protect our members.
You can get more information on how to protect yourself from the efforts of cold weather here.