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Stay warm to avoid cold stress this winter

As you probably know from being a resident of San Diego, it's not normal to have temperatures drop down into the 30s. You don't usually have to worry about cold temperatures, which is wonderful since you work outside.

An early-February storm front changed that this year, and San Diego is seeing some of the coldest temperatures this winter. As someone who doesn't usually have to worry about the cold, you might be concerned about your work during the next few evenings.

If you'll be working in the unexpected cold, keep these facts in mind

If you will need to work in the evenings or overnight when the weather is at its coldest, there are a few things to consider.

You should know that working in a cold environment does put you at risk of cold stress. Cold stress can result in a number of conditions such as trench foot, frostbite or hypothermia.

How cold is too cold, though? Interestingly, not as cold as you may think. As an example, look at a day with a 40-degree temperature. That's not below freezing, so most people would dress warmly and not worry about many cold-related injuries. What you have to remember is that wind chill, rain and other environmental factors can play a role in how the cold affects you. If the wind is moving at 35 mph, then the effect would be the same on your skin as if it was only 28 degrees outside. That's something to be concerned about.

What happens when you work in the cold?

When you work in the cold, your body reacts by shifting blood to away from the extremeties and to your core. This isn't always beneficial, because it means your skin and extremities will cool faster than the rest of your body and could be at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. If it's also wet outside, trench foot could be a risk.

Since San Diego is generally warmer, trench foot is a good illness to discuss. It can happen in temperatures as warm as 60 degrees if your feet are wet consistently while you work. As your feet stay wet and cold, the body shuts down circulation to the feet, which results in skin tissues dying. This can result in blisters, numbness, swelling and redness. This does require medical assistance when it occurs, so be aware of the risk and keep your feet dry.

The winter months are prone to unusual temperature drops and changes in precipitation. Keep that in mind, so you can dress correctly for the weather outside.

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