Safety Alert for Immersion Foot: Keep Your Feet Dry and Warm


If you work outside in cold weather, don’t neglect to read this safety alert as Immersion Foot can happen to anyone working in near-freezing temperatures and close to water.
Immersion foot is a serious condition resulting from your feet being wet for too long. It causes damage to the circulation and nerve function of the foot.

Unsafe Acts or Conditions

Early in December, a forester working on laying out a timber harvest slipped and submerged a boot in a stream while crossing. The forester had his foot in the water above the top of the boot briefly, allowing water to come into the boot.

The forester quickly exited the stream, determined that he was not injured, and spent the remainder of the day marking out skid trails and marking timber. He did not experience significant cold or discomfort on the foot.

Upon ending his day and returning home, the forester removed his boot to find that his foot was whiteish, tingly and wrinkled (as if he had seen in a tub for hours).

Observation and Treatment

The forester had Immersion Foot (also known as Trench’s foot, from World War I), a non-freezing injury that happens when a foot is cold and wet for an extended period. As the forester’s foot dried and rewarmed, he experienced extreme pain in the affected foot, so much so that he was unable to walk for a full day.

Symptoms of Immersion Foot

  • Tingling and itching which can progress to numbness
  • Feet may feel prickly or heavy, like blocks of wood
  • Difficulty walking
  • Feet turn pale, clammy and white as the blood vessels narrow

Avoiding Immersion Foot

  • Bring extra pairs of socks and change if they become wet
  • Keep feet warm and dry
  • Dry wet boots

This Safety Alert was provided by Forest Resources: Click here to view the full Safety Alert