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    Cold weather main topic of Fort McCoy quarterly safety meeting

    Snowy Sunrise at Fort McCoy

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | The sunrise is shown on the cantonment area Feb. 10, 2020, at Fort McCoy, Wis. The...... read more read more



    Story by Aimee Malone 

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    Fort McCoy’s quarterly Safety and Occupational Health Advisory Council met Jan. 14 at Whitetail Ridge Ski Area to discuss safety concerns at the installation.

    The meeting’s primary topic was cold-weather hazards, such as cold-weather injuries and ice safety. Common cold-weather injuries include hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains, and trench foot, said Safety Specialist Don Vender with the Installation Safety Office.

    Hypothermia is a potentially fatal medical emergency that occurs when body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It occurs in severe cold weather, especially when the weather is windy, and wet clothing or immersion in water. Symptoms include shivering, dizziness, drowsiness, change in behavior, stumbling, altered vision, and slowed or slurred speech.

    Someone with hypothermia symptoms should be evacuated immediately and rewarmed by removal of wet clothing; body-to-body contact; and/or drinking warm, sweet liquids.

    Frostbite occurs when skin freezes, which can occur at 28 F. Symptoms include discolored skin, a tingling sensation, numbness, stiffness, and blisters. Seek medical attention and rewarm the affected body area with body heat (unless the skin could refreeze during evacuation).

    Chilblains are nonfreezing cold injuries that occur that occur in cold, wet conditions. The skin turns pale and colorless and develops blisters in severe cases.

    The skin feels swollen, hot, and itchy upon rewarming. To treat, dry the skin and keep sterile and warm to allow it to heal.

    Trench foot is similar, being caused by prolonged exposure of skin to moisture in cold or cool conditions. Skin looks soggy, white and shriveled at first, then turns red, blue, or black. The skin becomes swollen and waxy and may develop blisters or sores. Treatments includes drying the skin, rewarming feet, reducing swelling, and seeking medical treatment.

    Preventing cold-weather injuries is both a command and individual responsibility, Vender said. Dress appropriately for the weather in layers, stay dry and change wet clothing, take breaks, and keep hydrated to help prevent injuries.

    Other factors that increase the odds of injury include alcohol and nicotine use, dehydration, and the length of exposure to the cold.
    Vender also reminded people to be cautious about walking or driving on ice.
    The recommended minimum thickness for new, clear ice is 4 inches for walking and ice fishing, 5 to 7 inches for a snowmobile or ATV, 8 to 12 inches for a car, and 12 to 15 inches for a truck, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

    However, no ice is 100 percent safe, Vender said. If you fall through ice, don’t remove clothing, he said. The air trapped between the layers can help you float.

    Turn toward the direction you came and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back to solid ice. Lie flat on your back once you’re out of the water and roll away. Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area to prevent hypothermia.

    If a vehicle goes through the ice, do your best to escape before it sinks. The chance of escaping diminishes quickly in the water. Front engines will cause the car to sink at a steep angle, and at depths of 15 feet, the car may flip upside down, Vender said.

    Side windows are the best ways to escape since doors can be more easily blocked by mud and silt or held shut by water pressure.

    Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

    The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”



    Date Taken: 02.12.2020
    Date Posted: 02.12.2020 14:53
    Story ID: 362796
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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