Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly on days when the temperature struggles to hit single digits. This typically increases hospital visits at this time of year.
But there are measures you can take to avoid a trip to the emergency room.
When preparing to head outdoors, remember that layers are important in the winter.
“Cotton doesn’t breath well, if it gets wet it doesn’t dry well, so having your good wool based layers, wearing a couple different types of insulation, waterproof shell on the outside, something that’s going to keep heat in but allow you to still breath,” said Physician Assistant Brice Suhay, explaining how to best dress when the mercury dips below freezing. “Those multiple layers help as well if you do get wet, being able to strip those wet layers off and still being warm.”
Another way to prepare to stay warm is from the inside.
Proper diet is needed for preparation, which includes high-fat high carb foods and water
“You want to make sure you’re staying really hydrated in these cold temperatures and often you do perspire a lot,” said Suhay. “You’re going to get colder and you want to make sure your body is well hydrated and adapt metabolic changes.”
Obviously, most workers would prefer to work in warmer weather. However, it’s sometimes required to go out in subzero temperatures for some professions in Montana including the search and rescue team at the Gallatin County Sheriff’s office.
“If you were to open up the back of my car, or the back of any of the sheriff’s deputy’s, you would see they’re packed with stuff to go from hot to frigid because we have a large county,” said Gallatin County Sheriff Capt. Jason Jarrett, Search and Rescue Commander. “The nature of our work puts us in positions that we don’t get to predict.”
Weather is something that the search and rescue professionals take seriously.
“Nature really doesn’t care that you’re incredibly fit or you’re a good person,” Jarrett said. “If you don’t have the right gear you’re going to pay for it.”