I’ve spent enough years in western Canada to understand the challenges of working outside in the almost obscenely cold temperatures. It can be brutal, but even with the challenges that come with working in frigidly cold temperatures there are things that you can do and should do to make it not only safer, but also more manageable.
Here are the top ten essential precautions to stay warm and protected while working in extreme cold:
1: Dress in Layers:
· Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin.
· Add an insulating layer of fleece or down to trap in the heat.
· Water and wind proof the outer layer to shield against the elements.
2. Protect Your Extremities:
· Insulated gloves and mittens to keep your hands warm.
· Thermal socks and insulated waterproof boots to protect your feet.
· Warm balaclava to cover your head and ears.
3. Hand and Foot warmers:
· Provide extra heat to your hands and feet.
· Placed in boots, gloves and pockets for added warmth.
4. Stay Dry.
· Waterproof clothing and gear to prevent moisture from wetness.
· Carry spare dry clothing to change into should you get wet.
5. Stay Active:
· Movement creates body heat so frequent light exercise will help you stay warm.
· Stretch your fingers and toes throughout the day to keep circulation moving.
6. Take Micro-Breaks:
· Give your body time to warm up and rest by taking breaks in warm sheltered areas.
· Use the breaks to stay hydrated and consume some needed calories.
7. Stay Informed:
· Be aware of weather forecasts before you head out to prepare yourself for issues like high windchill factors. Plan accordingly.
· Know the signs of cold-related illnesses like frostbite and hypothermia. Be prepared to seek medical help if needed. Don’t delay.
8. Use Heated Gear:
· Battery powered heated vests, jackets and insoles can provide extra warmth and comfort. This can be a game changer.
9. Maintain Equipment and Vehicles:
· This is the time to remember to check your equipment before you start the next job.
· This prevents not only downtime but being stranded in frigid temperatures.
10. Buddy System:
· Work with a partner throughout the job and day to ensure that somebody has your back and can help in case of emergencies.
Remember as always safety must come first. If conditions become too severe or dangerous be prepared to postpone work until conditions improve. In Canada we have the right and sometimes the obligation to refuse unsafe work. Severe cold weather is one of those times when we should keep this top of mind.
Maintaining safety for yourselves and for your crews takes planning, preparation proper gear and a proactive approach. Hopefully the above precautions have helped add to your cold weather toolbox. #WinterSafety #StayWarm #ColdWeatherPrecautions