Temperatures have started to drop and winter is officially here. Cold weather can introduce barriers for workers in the construction industry that can hinder performance on the job site while also posing a risk to one’s health and safety. Whith knowledge comes power and here at Safe T Professionals we to make sure that you have the tools and knowledge to be prepared for the elements that may effect your performance or put your safety at risk. Below are five great ways for you to stay warm on construction job sites.
1. Layers, Layers, & More Layers
One of the most common ways to stay warm is by simply layering clothing. The standard of layering is to have 3 types of layers; base layer, middle layer, and an outer layer. This layering strategy is proven to help keep you warm through the harshest of environments.
Base Layer (underwear)
Starting with a base layer or thermals is a great way to make sure that your body has something close to the skin keeping your natural body heat close to yourself while also allowing moisture to wick away from your skin and into the fabric of your clothing. Moisture and sweat directly on your skin is a recipe for a cold day at work so make sure to avoid this by investing in some high quality thermals that will wick moisture away.
Middle Layer (insulation)
The middle layer is crucial for keeping in the heat your body naturally produces. Insulation that a thin down jacket will provide makes sure that none of the heat your body produces is escaping.
Outer Layer (shell layer)
The outer layer and/or shell is meant to keep you protected from the direct elements that weather can throw at you including snow, rain, and wind. Typical shells are waterproof and are rated for various strengths of wind. Think of it this way, without a good shell, you are going into battle without any armor.
Remember, you can always take layers off but you won’t always have the luxury of adding additional layers once you have left your home.
2. Don’t Forget Your Head and Feet
“Put a hat on or you will catch your death, Don’t go outside barefoot you will catch a cold!” Since the beginning of time we have been told that you lose a large amount of body heat through your head and feet. Though we have no data to prove this, it is still something to take into account before heading off to work. It can be easy to forget proper headwear because it’s not everyday that we leave the house with a beanie or something to keep our head warm. Likewise, it can be easy to overlook the importance of insulated boots and wearing good socks that are made specifically for wicking moisture away from your feet in order to keep your feet dry and warm.
Though these items may not be as important as a good jacket or pants, we often overlook the importance of something to keep your head and feet warm which can lead to a miserable day on the job.
3. Protective Gloves
Hands are the most widely-used body part in construction, and keeping these warm is extremely important. Although the tendency for many workers is to remove their gloves and continue working, this only increases the chances of frostbite. Finding the right type of lightweight gloves can help workers keep their hands warm. If this still doesn’t work, glove liners are another option that you might consider. The most effective way to keep your hands warm is by using mittens, and a combination of a glove liner with mittens is ideal when taking breaks or resting in the cold.
4. Pocket/Hand Warmers
Though gloves are the most effective way to keep your hands safe from the elements, it is not always possible to operate equipment with them on. An alternative that you may consider is using pocket/hand warmers to keep your hands toasty. There are many options for this, including disposable, refillable or rechargeable devices that you can typically buy at your local grocery or sporting goods store. Investing as little as $30 can typically get you through an entire winter.
5. Stay Fueled
When the temperatures are cold, your body’s natural instinct is to turn up the heat. As your body produces heat to keep you warm, it is using more energy and burning more calories than it does on a typical day. It is very important to keep your body fueled with healthy and protein focused food so that you don’t run out of gas. Bringing some additional snacks to eat throughout the day is a great way to ensure that your body can continue to produce and that you don’t become fatigued quickly.
We often associate drinking water with hot days, but it is equally important on the cold ones. In winter, we tend to go for longer periods without water, not realizing breathing cold dry air causes the body to lose significant amounts of fluid. In winter we tend to feel much less thirsty even though the body’s need for water is unchanged year round.
Stay warm and stay safe out there this winter!