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A7.2.1. Blister Agents. Normally, blister agents such as distilled mustard (HD) are non-effective at low temperatures due to their high freezing points. However, if blister agents are encountered, care should be taken to avoid bringing contaminated clothing into heated shelters; the frozen agent will melt, thus increasing its effectiveness. As exceptions there are blister agents with low freezing points;

and encountering a blister agent at low temperatures is a possibility that should be considered.

A7.2.2. Nerve Agents. Although the nerve agent GB has a low freezing point (-56oC), its effectiveness in subzero weather is reduced due to difficulty in disseminating it as an aerosol. It should be noted, however, that if G-series nerve agents are encountered, their persistency will be increased, giving longer exposure to lower concentrations. Nerve agent VX is reduced in effectiveness due to the fact that absorption of agents through the skin is reduced by the layered clothing worn in cold regions.

A7.2.3. Other Chemical Agents. The solid, riot control agents that are dispersed by burning type munitions will function in low temperatures. Considerations of employment should include the fact that the burning munitions will sink into the snow and that the agent is very persistent at low temperatures.

A7.3. Equipment.

A7.3.1. Protective Masks. In extremely cold temperatures (-20oF and below), the mask becomes very rigid and is difficult to don. When donned at these temperatures, the protective mask causes instantaneous frostbite on the individuals face. To prevent this cold weather injury, the mask must be carried under outergarments to remain relatively warm from the individuals body heat. Also, in AFMAN32-4005 30 OCTOBER 2001 77 extreme cold, the mask eye lenses immediately fog and freezes when the mask is donned. In addition, breath condensation freezes the valves and the voicemitter assembly. This section contains specific instructions for cold-weather use of the mask. These instructions are essential for the proper functioning of this piece of equipment.

A7.3.1.1. Donning the Mask:

A7. Hold breath.

A7. Lower parka hood.

A7. Don the mask and hood. DO NOT CLEAR THE MASK by exhaling a large volume of air into the mask; the moist air will frost the cold lens. Exhale slowly and lightly.

(NOTE: This is a deviation from normal warm weather procedure.)

A7. If the outlet valve sticks to the valve seat, perform the following:

A7. Lift the outlet cover.

A7. Massage the outlet valve disk with one finger DURING EXHALATIONS ONLY, or until the disk functions without sticking to the valve seat (with or without cold weather gloves).

A7. Reseat the outlet valve cover.

A7. Check the mask for leaks by covering inlet valves with hands.

A7.3.1.2. Removing Mask. If the wearer becomes overheated in extremely cold weather, the mask with attached hood should not be removed outdoors until the face and head have cooled and an "all clear" has been announced. A cooling-off period is not required if the mask and hood are removed in a warm room or outdoors at mild temperatures. If contamination is suspected, removal procedures are to be accomplished in accordance with approved contamination control area donning/doffing instructions.

A7.3.1.3. General Procedures.

A7. The mask should be inspected after use for icing and cracks in the intake and outlet valves.

A7. The metal rivets on the inside of the mask should be covered with small pieces of tape to prevent frost bite.

A7. During intervals between repeated use of the mask, remove the mask from the carrier. Flex or jar the mask sufficiently to remove ice and snow from all its components and accessories.

A7. Warm the mask whenever the opportunity permits.

A7. When indoors or in a warm location, remove the mask from its carrier and wipe it dry with a cloth. Be sure that the outlet valve and nosecup valves are dry. Remove any foreign matter retained in the mask after wiping it. Replace the mask in the carrier.

A7.3.2. Nerve Agent Antidote/Atropine. These items have to be kept as close to body temperature as possible to prevent the freezing of the antidote/atropine and reduce danger of muscle shock/spasms from injecting an extremely cold liquid into the muscle. Atropine freezes at approximately the same 78 AFMAN32-4005 30 OCTOBER 2001 temperature as water. Whenever the temperature is below 40o F the atropine should be carried in one of your shirt pockets. Atropine that has been allowed to freeze is usable when thawed.

A7.3.3. Cold Weather Clothing. In some chemical warfare threat areas, cold weather clothing is worn over the CWD ensemble. Be careful not to overheat while wearing the OG and cold weather parka, as hypothermia is a possibility. If threat analysis indicates a chemical attack could occur, there

are several considerations that should be analyzed to determine procedural guidance:

A7.3.3.1. The basis of issue (BOI) for cold weather clothing is normally one item per person in or deployable to the appropriate environment. Commanders should consider the threat, the contamination potential, and need for additional cold weather clothing. If stocks are not adequate to support mission requirements, they should request BOI adjustments for their specific needs. Joint support planning documents should call out specific requirements above current allowances for deployable forces.

A7.3.3.2. Cold weather clothing not in use by shelterees could be stockpiled and used as replacements for contaminated garments.

A7.3.3.3. Cold weather clothing wear should enhance the CWD ensemble ability to protect the wearer by acting as a buffer zone against agent penetration effects.

A7.3.4. Chemical Protective Boots. The white arctic vapor barrier boot (NSN 8430-00-655-5563) worn in extreme cold provides protection from chemical agents. However, mukluks do not provide chemical protection due to their permeability; therefore, chemical protective overboots should be worn over the mukluk, or over the standard combat boots.

A7.4. Cold Weather Detection/Decontamination Procedures. Most equipment items have col d weather operation procedures listed in their respective technical orders (T.O.).

A7.4.1. M256A1 Chemical Agent Detector Kit. At subfreezing temperatures, the kit’s effectiveness deteriorates rapidly. Below 15o F, the kit is no longer dependable to provide accurate results due to the various capsule solutions freezing. It is imperative that the detector kit be kept close to the body to remain relatively warm.

A7.4.2. Concentrating Chemical Agent Vapors. Nerve agent VX is not very volatile, particularly at low temperatures. It is possible that liquid contamination may be present with no detectable vapors.

To test a suspected area of contamination, either warm the area before testing and/or concentrate the

vapors using a small box or can. Use of the box or can is described below:

A7.4.2.1. Place a small can or box over a portion of the suspected area for about 5 minutes.

A7.4.2.2. Punch a hole in the can or box. Place the detector ticket directly over the hole and sample. Do not allow the detector ticket to touch the contaminant by stopping air currents from carrying the vapors away.

A7.4.3. Automatic Liquid Agent Detector System (ALAD). When the ALAD is connected to AC power, a heater in the sensor mounting plate provides heat to the sensor when the temperature is below 70o F. The Built-In-Test (BIT) feature shelf checks the detector unit. The colder the temperature is, the longer is takes before the heater is checked, and the lamp goes out to indicate BIT OK.

A7.4.4. M258A1 Skin Decontamination Kits. Precautions must be taken to prevent frostbite when applying the towelette solutions to the skin. See T.O. 11D1-1-111.

AFMAN32-4005 30 OCTOBER 2001 79 A7.4.5. M17 Lightweight Decontamination Apparatus. Procedures for using the water filled LDA during cold weather will be according to T.O. 11D1-3-9-1.

A7.4.6. Following contamination control area processing, liquid contaminated cold weather clothing is decontaminated, disposed of, or replaced as specified in T.O. 11C15-1-3. Aeration (similar to those procedures used for the CWD ensemble) could be used. As long as the liquid contamination has not penetrated through the cold weather gear, it should not present a hazard if worn over the CWD ensemble. If liquid contamination has penetrated through the cold weather gear, reuse could hasten penetration through the CWD ensemble.

A7.5. Cold Injuries. When a person is surrounded by air or water having a lower temperature than body temperature, the body will lose heat, since heat flows from places with high temperature to those with lower temperature. The colder the surrounding temperature, the greater the potential for body heat to escape. If heat escapes faster than the body produces heat, body temperature will fall. Normal body temperature is 98.6oF, and if body temperature falls much below this, performance degrades and cold injuries can result.

A7.5.1. Humans protect themselves from cold primarily by avoiding or reducing cold exposure using clothing and shelter. When this protection proves inadequate, the body has biological defense mechanisms to help maintain correct body temperature. The body’s internal mechanisms to defend its temperature during cold exposure include vasoconstriction (tightening of blood vessels in the skin) and shivering. When these responses are triggered, it is a signal that clothing and shelter are inadequate.

A7.5.1.1. The reduced skin blood flow due to vasoconstriction conserves body heat, but can lead to discomfort, numbness, loss of dexterity in hands and fingers, and eventually cold injuries.

When cold exposure lasts for more than an hour, cooling of the skin and reduced blood flow to the hands leads to blunted sensations of touch and pain and loss of dexterity and agility. This can impair ability to perform manual tasks and lead to more severe cold injuries, since symptoms may go unnoticed. Feet are particularly vulnerable, and extra foot care is required for cold-weather operations.

A7.5.1.2. Shivering increases internal heat production, which helps to offset the heat being lost.

Internal heat production is also increased by physical activity, and the more vigorous the activity, the greater the heat production. In fact, heat production during intense exercise or strenuous work is usually sufficient to completely compensate for heat loss, even when it is extremely cold. However, high intensity exercise and hard physical work are fatiguing, can cause sweating, and cannot be sustained indefinitely. Moreover, most military occupational activities are less vigorous than high-intensity exercise, so internal heat production will probably not be adequate to offset heat loss.

A7.5.2. Types of cold injuries. Cold injuries are generally categorized as either nonfreezing or freezing injuries.

A7.5.2.1. Common nonfreezing cold injuries can occur when conditions are cold and wet (air temperatures between 32oF and 55oF) and the hands and feet cannot be kept warm and dry. The most prominent nonfreezing cold injuries are chilblain and trenchfoot. Table A7.1. provides first-aid procedures. Furthermore, another non-freezing injury, hypothermia, is a life-threatening condition in which deep-body temperature falls below 95oF.

80 AFMAN32-4005 30 OCTOBER 2001 A7. Chilblain is a nonfreezing cold injury which, while painful, causes little or no permanent impairment. It appears as red, swollen skin which is tender, hot to the touch, and may itch. This can worsen to an aching, prickly (“pins and needles”) sensation, and then numbness.

It can develop in only a few hours in skin exposed to cold.

A7. Trenchfoot is a very serious nonfreezing cold injury which develops when skin of the feet is exposed to moisture and cold for prolonged periods (12 hours or longer). The combination of cold and moisture softens skin, causing tissue loss and, often, infection. If treatment is delayed, amputation may become necessary. Often, the first sign of trenchfoot is itching, numbness, or tingling pain. Later the feet may appear swollen, and the skin mildly red, blue, or black. Commonly, trenchfoot shows a distinct “water-line” coinciding with the water level in the boot. Red or bluish blotches appear on the skin, sometimes with open weeping or bleeding. The risk of this potentially crippling injury is high during wet weather or when personnel are deployed in wet areas. Airmen wearing rubberized or tight-fitting boots are at risk for trenchfoot regardless of weather conditions, since sweat accumulates inside these boots and keeps the feet wet.

Table A7.1.

First Aid for Chilblain and Trenchfoot.


1. Prevent further exposure.

2. Remove wet, constrictive clothing.

3. Wash and dry injured area gently.

4. Elevate injured area, cover with layers of loose, warm clothing, and allow to rewarm (pain and blisters may develop).

5. Do not: pop blisters, apply lotions or creams, massage, expose to extreme heat, or allow victim to walk on injury.

6. Refer for medical treatment.

A7. Hypothermia is a medical emergency; untreated, it results in death. Hypothermia occurs when the body's cold-defense mechanisms cannot keep up with the demand for heat.

Because water has a tremendous capacity to drain heat from the body, immersion in water considered even slightly cool (e.g., 60oF) can cause hypothermia, if the immersion is prolonged for several hours. Generally, deep-body temperature will not fall until after many hours of continuous exposure to cold air, if the individual is healthy, physically active, and reasonably dressed. However, since wet skin and wind accelerate body heat loss, and the body produces less heat during inactive periods, body temperature can fall even when air temperatures are above freezing if conditions are windy, clothing is wet, and/or the individual is inactive.

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