Cold Related Injury

Agricultural work involves cold exposure during the cold months when dealing with equipment, preparing fields, caring for livestock, or creating or repairing buildings. Hunting and fishing are two situations in which cold exposure plays a key role. A particular problem arises when there is a need to go from one temperature extreme to another in the course of the work day. Both acclimatization and protective clothing issues have to be considered. Table 33.3 summarizes the effects of cold as well as prevention and treatment (25,26).

Table 33.3. Cold effects.

Condition

Characteristic

Prevention

Treatment

Chilblains

Superficial skin from

Protective gear, avoid

Removal from cool

cool temperature,

exposure

environment and

high humidity

rewarming

and winds

Frostnip

Superficial skin damage

Protective gear, avoid

Local care. Removal

(1st degree

from temperatures

exposure

from cold environment

frostbite)

near freezing

and rewarming

Second degree

Into the dermis, can

Protective gear, avoid

Topical antibiotics,

frostbite

blister

exposure

removal from cold,

rewarming

Third Degree

Through the dermis,

Protective gear, avoid

Hospitalization, fluid

frostbite

nerve endings

exposure

replacement, treat

destroyed, potential

shock, debridement,

for damage to

reconstruction,

deeper structures

antibiotics

and gangrene

Early

Fatigue and clouded

Acclimatization.

Rewarming. Nutritional

hypothermia

thinking; shivering,

Maintain fluid and

and fluid supplement.

irritability

nutritional intake.

Avoidance.

Appropriate gear.

More advanced

As for early plus

As for early

Rapid external

hypothermia

uncoordination,

rewarming,

social withdrawal

Nutritional and fluid

and paradoxical

supplement

clothing removal

Extreme

As for more advanced

As for early

Immediate need for in

hypothermia

hypothermia plus

hospital care including

organ shutdown

core rewarming and

and cardiac arrest

fluids and cardiac

resuscitation if needed.

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