Oiled Sea Otter Capture Course


When it comes to the weather, expect the unexpected. Difficult weather conditions include extreme cold and hot temperatures, as well as severe sea and wind conditions.

Cold Temperatures

Cold temperatures can cause injury in the form of chilblains, frostbite and hypothermia. It is therefore important to dress appropriately in cold temperatures and watch for early signs of cold injury in yourself and your co-workers. Warm clothing should be worn in foul weather conditions. A change of clothing is also recommended.


Chilblains is the least serious cold injury and is characterized by localized swelling, itching and painful redness of the exposed skin. The affected area should heal on its own when rewarmed.


Frostbite is caused by cold temperatures and results in injury to exposed skin or tissue. Areas affected by frostbite become white, gray or mottled white in the early stages. In later stages of frostbite the affected area looks white and waxy. If you notice anyone with signs of frostbite tell your supervisor or get medical attention immediately.


Hypothermia is lowering of the body’s core temperature which can cause injury and death. Onset is very rapid (approx. 20 minutes) if one falls into cold coastal water, but temperatures of 10°C (50°F) or lower can bring it on unless proper safeguards are taken, particularly in wet, windy conditions.

Wind Chill Factors

Wind chill factors can become extremely critical in the wet environment response personnel sometimes must work in. Warm protective clothing can become wet, rendering it ineffective. Adequate personal protective equipment is essential for reducing injury and increasing your chance of survival. Your supervisor will inform you of the appropriate protective clothing and equipment adequate for the risk of cold exposure.

Typical signs of cold exposure are:

  • Loss of concentration and confusion
  • Shivering
  • Complaints of feeling cold

High Temperatures

High temperatures can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Differentiation between the two is usually easy, however, more than one condition may be present. Of the two, heat stroke is very serious and medical attention is required immediately at the onset of symptoms. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in yourself or co-workers, report immediately to your supervisor and get medical assistance.

Heat exhaustion is caused by water depletion or salt depletion. In either type of heat exhaustion, the bodies ability to sweat is maintained.

Some typical signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating, pale skin

Heat stroke or sunstroke is a life threatening medical emergency. It is caused by the body losing its ability to sweat.

Some typical signs of heat stroke (sunstroke):

  • Dry, hot flushed skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • High temperature
  • Muscular twitching

Sea and Wind Conditions

Sea and wind conditions are not uniform throughout coastal areas because of mountains, channels and other factors. Workers must be prepared for the forecast, and unexpected sea and wind conditions.

Buddy System

Keep an eye on yourself and your buddy. When necessary, stop work and take time to recover. Report all cold or heat exposure symptoms to your supervisor; others may be suffering the same problem.