If you work outdoors as we do, providing commercial demolition services in Kansas City, you need to be aware of the symptoms and risks associated with hypothermia. Many people are under the incorrect impression that it’s only possible to get hypothermia in the Arctic, surrounded by ice and snow—but the reality is that hypothermia sets in anytime someone’s body temperature dips below 95 degrees. Even in the mid to low 30s, it’s possible to get hypothermia if you do not take precautions.
The initial signs of hypothermia
Cold acts in a very predictable way on the human body. First, your blood vessels constrict, saving heat for your heart, lungs and brain. When the cold reaches deeper, your body begins to shiver. This works like exercise, kicking your metabolic system into action and warming you up. But if the cold is too much, and even with your body’s defenses you are unable to keep your body temperature above 95 degrees, hypothermia sets in. The first sign is shivering that you can’t control, followed by a decrease in feeling in your hands and feet, then blue lips and fingers, an increase in heart rate and finally loss of coordination and confused or slurred speech.
What to do if you notice these symptoms
If a worker is showing these signs, especially slurred speech and loss of coordination, it is important that you call 911 right away. In the meantime, give the person hot, non-alcoholic drinks, like tea, coffee or even plain hot water, and wrap them in blankets if you can. Keep them awake until the ambulance arrives.
The next stages of hypothermia
If the person experiencing these symptoms is left out in the cold, their mental functioning will continue to deteriorate, first making them less alert, and then beginning to make them confused, even prone to outburst. When the person falls back into a stupor, you’ll notice a long, glassy-eyed stare, slowed breathing and even decreased heart rate. Again, you need to call 911 and try to warm the affected person up, holding them bodily if necessary.
Final stage of hypothermia
In the final stages of hypothermia, the affected person will seem dead. They will become still, pass out, seem to cease breathing and their pulse may be so faint that you cannot locate it. It is important to know that they are not yet dead! Call 911 immediately. Find a way to bring the victim indoors to wait. Remove their wet clothes and put blankets on them. Make sure not to warm them too quickly, as this can cause its own problems. We encourage you, though, to keep vigilant watch over your fellow workers and, if you notice them exhibiting the first signs of hypothermia, to intervene as quickly as you can. If stopped early, there are usually no long-term effects of hypothermia. But in severe cases, your lungs, brain and heart can have long-lasting, even permanent damage.
Each winter, we make it a company-wide priority to educate ourselves and our team on the symptoms and effects of hypothermia as part of our long-term focus on our workers’ safety. We encourage our fellow providers of commercial demolition services in Kansas City to do the same. If you’re looking for a commercial demolition company that does things the right way for both its customers and its employees, look no further than Midland Wrecking Inc. Give us a call today!