As a member of an Ohio fire department, our weather can be a study of extremes. We all know about the dangers of hot weather, Dehydration, Sun exposure, Heat stroke. It is pounded into our heads to increase water consumption, stay cool, and what-not. But what about winter, when the Mercury dropps below freezing. These temps can be just as dangerous.



These are a few tricks I have learned and pass on to my crews:


 1) Do not over-dress, sweat is sweat, no matter what the ambient temps are outside, furthermore once you return to the cold exterior temperatures the sweat will cause your body to chill faster.



 2) Pack heavy, keep extra clothing and gear in the truck. I keep an extra t-shirt, sweatshirt, extra nomex, and extra structural and extrication gloves. Also, socks are like gold when your feet are wet and its 10 degrees out.




 3) I will almost always put nitrile exam gloves on under my structural or rescue gloves. Wet gloves suck but wet hands are worse.



 4) Dont be a hero, have extra manpower ready.



 5) If you are an engineer, invest in a set of traction aid devices for your boots, I use Stable-icers, they have replacable cleats and are easy to don.



 6) Officers, make friends with the local DOT or county engineers, and use them, sand and salt are great to have at your disposal, not to mention a standby plow truck if you are in a rural like we are.



 7) Finally be responsible for your health, stretch frequently, eat high carb- high calorie meals, and dont forget to drink water, I love coffee as much as anyone, but it has to be done.




        If you have any other ideas to add or any thoughts please let me know. I am not an expert I am just going from experience!



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All excellent points, I always carry extra socks, gloves, hoods, etc. It never fails somebody always asks to borrow one of mine. And as always be mindful of the road conditions when responding!
from past experiences the latex and other medical gloves cause frost bite on hands quicker so i always wear wear old one size fits all gloves under them if im not going to be doing vitals on pts.

Remind me not to let my kids go to the University of Maryland!
The disposable hand/body warmers come in handy. I pass them out to people in slide offs. They can be used for entrapped paitents. (Remember they can burn so keep an eye on the paitent.)
Also great on cold scenes they last for hours and are cheap. I carry them in my coat pocket in a ziplock bag. I place them also in both my wife's and my POV for slide off warmth. They come in large and small sizes I try to carry a few sizes.
Tip carry them in ziplock bags if they get air they activate and go bad.

On a slick hwy we have loaded up slide off victims and took them back to the station. It's warm and most of all safe from traffic. It is the only way to get in are trucks without being on are department. When its that bad we get busy and don't want to leave anyone on the roadway. It may be hours waiting on a tow truck. Sometimes we can have deputy's set them up with a hotel room for overnight and taxi them there.
I can't stress the safety part enough slick roads will get someone killed in a hurry. How many have been to the same slick spot time and time again in one day or night.
All excellent points....a few additional suggestions:

--Have all drivers review the materials for deploying and operating Onspot chains if you have vehicles so equipped. See

--Break out all of the chains for your apparatus if you have them. Replace any missing components. Make sure everybody knows how to install them. Practice it!

--Carry shovels appropriate for digging out fire hydrants.

--Small butane fueled torches can be use to quick thaw frozen padlocks and locksets when you can't insert a key. See

And if the snow is this deep outside of your apparatus bays, you aren't going ANYWHERE:

Our run district is completely rural so all we have to worry about is dry hydrant access, but our "plummed bretheren" do a great job of servicing their hydrants
I wish we had chains! Maybe we can add them to specs on are new engine.
We had -2F last week and now have 28 degrees and 14 inches of snow. Our department runs with a dry pump when the temp drops below 15 degrees, we have our P-can on an inside compartment and the EMS supplies in a heated compartment. We run radiator covers when winter comes and cable chains when there is any snow, ice or compact snow. We go to heavy irons (chains) when the snow is more than 6 inches deep on the road. Our apparatus have sipped front tires. The chains need constant minding when you run as much as we do. Our ladder trucks have double row chains for the bad weather. We spend a lot of time rebuilding cable chains and chains in the station to keep up. We tried the on-board chains that spin under the tires but they pretty much suck. I carry a bag with extra sweatshirts, fire gloves, hats and sox on the engine. The supply is for the whole crew. Don't forget your exhaust pipe as a way to warm hands and feet as well as un-freeze iced couplings. Don't put on too many layers for the fire attack, keep them for after.
I also carry a winter bag on the truck with extra gloves, watch cap (stocking cap) sweatshirt, sweat pants, socks, hand and foot warmers and a couple a power bars. I also added toilet paper and personal wipes for those extended scene times or mulitpul alarm fires.
The On-Spot auto chains are great on ice, but your right they do suck in snow over 2-3 inches deep. We use the On-Spot when an ice storm rolls in but during snowstorms we chain up the trucks with conventional chains.

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