ORWIGSBURG, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As temperatures dip into the low 20s and teens, you know its time to bundle up. Most of us are just outside going to and from, but what about those people who spend all day outside working?
When it’s this cold we need to take it seriously. There are many dangers that come along with being outside when the temperature drops, especially when there’s a windchill.
“It’s a cold day,” said Thomas Rogal, Schuylkill County Maintenance Manager.
Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean there aren’t roads to fix. PennDOT workers layer up before they clock in at 7 a.m. for another 8-hour day in the cold.
“The hard, windy days are by far the worst, it sucks the heat right out of you,” said Rogal.
They wear helmet liners, thick gloves and socks, boots, and of course layer up their coats.
“The key to stay warm in these conditions is to stay active,” said Rogals.
To prevent serious problems, they have safety talks twice a day.
“This is very deadly when its this cold,” said Dr. James Greenfield, local physician and ER doctor.
Doctors say the big things to watch out for: frostbite — when your skin appears white, waxy and hard to the touch… Which can result in amputation.
“Frost bite can even happen faster than 20 minutes depending how cold it is,” said Greenfield.
Hypothermia — when your body temperature drops into the low 90s or the 80s… Which can alter organ function.
“When you start to become hypothermic sometimes you don’t even notice it at times,” said Greenfield.
Signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, and confused behavior. If you realize you are indeed too cold, experts say it’s best to warm up gradually.
Also, if you have asthma, doctors recommend keeping an inhaler with you during the winter months. The cold air is dryer, and could affect your lungs. Another thing to keep in mind, your energy levels.
“You can get dehydrated quite easily if you’re not paying attention because you actually use a lot of energy to keep your body warm,” said Greenfield.
Experts recommend drinking warm, sweet beverages and eating high-calorie foods such as hot pastas to produce more energy that your body can use to keep you warm.
Experts also say it’s important to remember to wear a hat! The majority of heat leaves from your head and other extremities like your nose and ears, so it’s a good idea to cover those up, too.
Workers who take certain medications, or suffer from diseases like diabetes or hypertension, are at an increased risk when out in the cold. If anyone experiences signs of frostbite or hypothermia, they should call for help.