ISU Safety Newsletter
Brought to you by ISU Public Safety and the ISU Safety Committee December, 2002
Warm up to the Hazards of the Cold
Where is the coldest recorded spot on earth? Vostok, Antarctica. Back in 1983, this isolated research station set the world record for coldest temperature: -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is highly unlikely you will ever work in Vostok or under conditions even remotely similar, work in the cold for any length of time and your body may begin to feel as if it were in Antarctica.
A cold environment pulls heat from the body and forces it to work harder to maintain its temperature. If you are not properly prepared to work in these conditions, the cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains or trench foot, or cause asthma and arthritis to flare up. The effects-decreased dexterity, mental skills and coordination, among others-can make an accident or injury much more likely.
However, according to Princeton University's Environmental Health & Safety Website, hypothermia occurs most often in the spring and fall rather than winter, when people are more likely to wear inadequate or inappropriate clothing for outdoor work.
It should come as no surprise then that OSHA lists inadequate or wet clothing as a major risk factor on its fact sheet for working in cold environments. Other risk factors include:
- Taking drugs such as alcohol, nicotine or caffeine, or any medication that impairs judgment or inhibits the body's ability to properly generate heat.
- Having a cold, diseases such as diabetes, or problems associated with the heart, thyroid or circulation.
- Being male. Men experience far greater death rates due to cold exposure than women.
- Becoming exhausted or immobilized, especially due to injury or entrapment.
- Aging-it is difficult for older people to generate heat as quickly as the young.
Mom was right: Wear a hat
Experts agree that wearing proper clothing is the single most important step workers can take to avoid cold-related stress. Clothing should be loose fitting and consist of at least three layers. This helps trap the heat and provide insulation. Garments should also allow for perspiration. The inner layer should be cotton or polypropylene to draw moisture away from the skin. Use wool, fleece or a synthetic fabric such as Polartec for the middle layer to retain body heat. The outer layer should protect you from wind and water. It should also be resistant to oil, fire, chemicals or abrasion, depending on the work situation.
Pay special attention to the face, feet and hands. Up to 40% of the body's heat can be lost through the head, so remember Mom's advice when you were a kid to wear a hat. Hoods and masks can prevent frostbite. Eye protection is advisable if you are exposed to blowing snow and ice.
For the feet, wear sock liners, woolen or polyester socks and waterproof insulated boots. Avoid tight-fitting footwear that could restrict blood flow. Similarly, layer the hands with glove liners, gloves and mittens. If the job requires dexterity, consider fingerless gloves with attached mittens that can be folded back.
Of course, always have a change of clothing available just in case garments become excessively wet.
Eat, drink and be cautious
Besides clothing, there are several other precautions workers can take:
- Eat & drink plenty of high-calorie foods. Cold suppresses thirst. OSHA recommends sugar water or sports-type drinks and hot pasta dishes.
- Use the buddy system - try to work in pairs so you can keep an eye on each other.
- Try to do the heaviest work during the warmer parts of the day.
- Be prepared for a vehicle breakdown. Keep extra clothing, gloves and blankets as well as normal vehicle emergency supplies on hand.
Holiday or Winter Blues?
Worried about grades? Having financial problems or feel depressed due to the breakup of a relationship. Problems at home or work? For many - particularly those who are divorced, widowed, estranged from the family, or lost a loved one - that long stretch from Thanksgiving through New Year's can be lonely, stressful, and depressing. Some people have less coping skills than others and can feel overwhelmed with life's problems.
It's also estimated 25 million Americans experience the "winter blues," a form of depression that makes you feel irritable and eat more, starting when the leaves start changing colors in the fall and ending when the daffodils begin sprouting in the spring. The cause of your mood can vary. It could be simply that you're cooped up, bored, and restless. Or, your condition could be due to a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and hunger.
If these feelings persist they can seem too much of a burden and the person begins to have thoughts of ending it all with suicide.
Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal. Approximately 30,000 Americans kill themselves every year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, and is the eighth leading death among all persons. Suicide cuts across all age, economic, social and ethnic boundaries. Firearms are currently the most often utilized method. Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, but are themselves at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.
Suicide is preventable! People desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
Be Aware Of The Warning Signs!
There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Fortunately, there are some common warning signs which, when acted upon, can save lives. Here are some signs to watch for. A suicidal person may:
- Talk about committing suicide.
- Have trouble eating or sleeping.
- Experience drastic changes in behavior.
- Withdraw from friends and social activities.
- Lose interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
- Make out a will and final arrangements.
- Give away prized possessions.
- Have attempted suicide before.
- Take unnecessary risks.
- Have had a recent severe loss.
- Be preoccupied with death & dying.
- Lost interest in their personal appearance.
- Increase their use of alcohol or drugs.
Be Aware of Feelings
People having a crisis often perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and things they experience:
- Can't stop the pain
- Can't think clearly
- Can't make decisions
- Can't see any way out
- Can't sleep, eat or work
- Can't get out of depression
- Can't make the sadness go away
- Can't see a future without pain
- Can't see themselves as worthwhile
- Can't get someone's attention
- Can't seem to get control
If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!
What to do?
The Counseling & Testing Center 282-2130
The Dean of Students 282-2315
ISU Public Safety 282-2515
Pocatello Police (Non-Emergency) 234-6100
Dater's Bill of Rights
- I have the right to refuse a date without feeling guilty.
- I can ask for a date without feeling rejected or inadequate if the answer is no.
- I do not have to act macho.
- I may choose not to act seductively.
- If I don't want physical closeness, I have the right to say no.
- I have the right to start a relationship slowly, to say, "I want to know you better before I become involved.
- I have the right to be myself without changing to suit others.
- I have the right to change a relationship when my feelings change. I can say, "We used to be close, but I want something else now."
- If I am told a relationship is changing, I have the right not to blame or change myself to keep it going.
- I have the right to an equal relationship with my partner.
- I have the right not to dominate or to be dominated.
- I have the right to act one way with one person and a different way with someone else.
- I have the right to change my goals whenever I want to.
- 80 percent of rape victims knew the perpetrator.
- One out of every four women will be sexually assaulted by 18 years of age.
- One out of every six men will be sexually assaulted by 18 years of age.
Rape is everyone's worry. If you are a victim of rape or know someone who is contact any of the following:
ISU Public Safety 282-2515
JCA Women's & Men's Center 282-2805
Project HOPE Crisis Line 282-HOPE (4673)
Pocatello Police (Non-Emergency) 234-6100
In an Emergency dial 911