Icy toes and frozen fingers go hand-in-hand with spending time outside in the winter. But when it's your job to work outside, not being prepared for cold weather can have serious consequences. Here's our quick checklist to make sure you're ready to tackle anything mother nature has to throw at you this winter.
Cold Weather Checklist
Mind the Wind Chill
Say the temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but there’s a 20 mph wind blowing. According to the National Weather Service’s wind chill formula that makes it feel like 17 degrees, which can lead to frostbite in 30 minutes or less. Don’t just make note of the air temperature. On a windy day, you will need more gear to stay safe and warm out there.
Know the symptoms of hypothermia
If you’re doing a job that requires you to be outside your vehicle – for example one in which you must use a snow shovel or small spreader to clear a walkway – you may work up a sweat, even in sub-freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, this increases your chances for hypothermia. Make sure you are aware of excessive shivering, excessive fatigue, or loss of coordination, which are all signs of hypothermia. To further protect yourself, make sure your base layer is made of sweat-wicking material to keep your skin dry.
Speaking of layers...
Layers help trap warm air which insulates your body. Typically three layers: a base layer, mid layer and outer layer work well. For different areas on your body try layering:
- Head: Balaclava, scarf, hat
- Body: Synthetic or wool base layer that wicks away moisture (cotton won't keep you warm if it gets wet), mid layer- like a sweatshirt, and a zip able second outer layer (shoveling can build up a sweat and this way it can evaporate).
- Hands: Mittens, glove liners, hand warmers
- Feet: Wool or synthetic socks that wick away moisture (1 or two pairs!), waterproof shoes/boots (look for GoreTex linings & leave lots of room in the toe). You could also consider using overshoes or adding foot warmers
Use hand warmers/strong>
You can put them in pockets, gloves, or shoes. Throw a couple pairs in your truck to have just in case.
Bring hot food/drinks
Who doesn't love the feeling of hot liquid on a cold day? It warms your body up inside & out. Pack soup or coffee in a thermos to sip on during breaks.
Stay active and moving while outdoors & pack extra dry clothes
Moving around will produce heat to help keep your body warm. But if you are working outside all day and get wet from rain, snow, or sweat having dry clothes to change into can help keep your body warm.
What do you do to stay warm while working outside in the winter? Share your tips & tricks in the comments below.