Cold weather can cause both familiar and unique injuries if Soldier’s aren’t careful.
Photo by Spc. Kimberly Gonzalez
This article initially appeared in PS 795 (Feb 19), p. 59-60
Most Soldiers are aware of injuries caused by hot weather. But did you know that Old Man Winter can cause some of the same problems as hot weather while bringing a few unique challenges, too?
The injuries that most people associate with cold weather are:
- Hypothermia: A person’s core temperature drops to 95° F (32° C) or less. Hypothermia can also happen in temperatures above freezing if a person is wearing wet clothes.
- Frostbite: Frostbite happens at air temperatures below 32°F, and includes freezing fingers, toes or exposed skin. Contact with cold metal and super-cooled liquids can also cause frostbite.
- Chilblain: A non-freezing cold weather injury that can occur after prolonged exposure to cold, wet conditions. There aren’t any permanent effects associated with chilblains, but the swelling and itching will make you mighty uncomfortable.
- Immersion Foot: This is also known as trench foot and is caused by prolonged exposure of tissue (usually on the feet) to cold, wet temperatures between 32° and 60°F.
These injuries and others like carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly vented heaters and falling injuries from slipping on the ice are unique to winter weather. But you also face the dangers of dehydration and sunburn. And don’t forget, cold injuries are reportable just like any other type of injury.
The Army Public Health Center produced a short, informative training video on the symptoms and ways to prevent cold-weather injuries. Find it here: