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Stay safe while working in temperature extremes

When most people think of Minnesota weather, they probably think about the extreme cold as depicted in popular movies and television shows. However, if you live and work in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you know that the cold is only half the story.

It is true that Minnesota can see extremely cold temperatures during the winter. During the summer, however, temperatures can get extremely hot. Not only that, but Minnesota summers can also be very humid, which magnifies the effects of the heat and makes it more difficult for your body to regulate its temperature.

Your job may require you to work outside at all times of the year. The following information can help you stay safe during conditions of both extreme cold and extreme heat.

Cold temperatures

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can result in illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite occurs when the tissues of your body start freezing, while hypothermia is a drop in body temperature. Each can be extremely serious.

When working outside in cold temperatures, you should limit your exposure by taking frequent breaks to warm up. Dress appropriately in layers to protect your vulnerable extremities with gloves, boots and a hat. Carry extra cold-weather gear with you, including a change of clothes, a thermos of warm liquid and perhaps a blanket.

Hot temperatures

During hot weather, you need to give your body the opportunity to use its natural temperature regulation system to cool you down. Therefore, you should wear loose-fitting clothing that allows air to circulate near your skin so that your sweat can evaporate. These should be in light colors so they do not absorb heat from the sun.

You need to stay hydrated while working outside in the heat by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeinated beverages, however, because these will actually cause you to lose fluids more quickly. Take breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned area when possible.

Exposure to temperature extremes, whether hot or cold, can cause serious illness. You should learn to recognize the symptoms of these illnesses and monitor them in yourself and others.

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