It’s that time of year again when the mercury drops below freezing and those who have to work outside begin to gear up and stay warm during the cold winter months…especially if you live in northern states. Many construction workers and others who work outside usually know how to prepare for the wintertime, but there are many others who aren’t sure where to begin. The team here from Dependable Construction have some simple tips to keep you warm and healthy while you work on a jobsite.
1.) Wear Proper Clothing and Protection
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people underestimate how cold it can get outside and not dress accordingly. First thing to remember is if you’re going to be outside for a long period of time, it’s important to wear two or three layers of clothing as well as a pair of insulated boots. (Long underwear helps a lot.) You should also wear two pairs of socks. Avoid wearing steel-toed boots. The metal attracts the cold and your feet will freeze over time. Try and find composite toe boots. They’re almost as good as steel-toed boots and will keep your feet from freezing.
Also, if you can, try and wear head, neck and eye protection. While it’s good to protect your entire body, you also need to protect the flesh on your face and head. Wear a scarf, ski mask/helmet liner and goggles to protect your eyes. This will prevent frostbite and windburn.
2.) Keep Moving
Another good way to stay warm is keep moving. Movement generates heat and keeps your blood flowing. This is also why layering is important. As you work, you will sweat. That sweat could freeze and make you cold. The more layers you have on, the easier it is stay dry. Last thing you need is to freeze inside your own clothing. If you’ll be doing work where you think you’ll sweat a lot, bring an extra pair of clothes just to be safe. Keep moving, stay dry and you’ll stay warm.
3.) Stay Hydrated – Yes Even in Winter Time
You may not feel thirsty, but yes, it is important to stay hydrated in the winter time. Water is a must when working in cold weather environments. If you have access to warm soups, broths or other warm liquids…those are okay too. But, avoid large amounts of caffeine in cold weather. (This includes soda and coffee.)
If you’ve been to a cold weather football game, some people like to hide a flask in their coats and think that a certain kind of “beveridge” will keep them warm. Folks, drinking alcohol doesn’t do anything to keep you warm. In fact, it gets you more dehydrated and can impair you when you’re working on a jobsite. Let’s face it…alcohol and jobsite don’t mix on the best of days. The chances of something happening on a cold weather day increases if alcohol is involved. Keep the flasks at home.
4.) Take Breaks
While it’s good to get into a rhythm and get work done, it’s also important not to over-do it when working in the cold weather. Make sure you take breaks to rest and warm yourself up. If your employer has a heating tent or nearby heater, take advantage of it. Be mindful that while having heaters on a jobsite is a good thing, it can also produce other hazards as well.
You have nothing to prove by staying out in the cold weather longer than others. Get yourself warmed up and take a load off. Trust us, you’ll feel a lot better.
5.) Guard Against Winter Hazards
Lastly, when working outside make sure you or your workmates are not getting frostbite or some other cold-related illness. Recognize symptoms of frostbite, pneumonia, hypothermia or overexposure. If someone’s cheeks, hands or other parts of their body start to turn red or get blisters, it’s time to take them inside and then seek medical attention.
If you see someone shaking excessively, or if their lips are discolored, or if they’re dazed and confused, they may be experiencing hypothermia. If that’s the case, that person should be taken to a hospital immediately to be checked out.