Working in cold weather can be dangerous without adequate winter clothing and preparation. When the body is unable to warm itself, life threatening injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite may occur.
To cope with the weather, stay active, dress warm, and remember these tips:
- Too much heat loss can cause hypothermia
- Exposed skin may freeze in the right conditions, causing frostbite.
- Hypothermia and frostbite can be life-threatening.
- Cold air is dry air, which causes dry skin and loss of body fluid.
- Prolonged exposure to moderate cold and dampness can result in other types of injuries such as back or musculoskeletal injuries. For those with arthritis or rheumatism, cold weather can create even more pain problems.
COLD WEATHER GEAR
Proper protection begins with layered clothing. The goal is to keep warm enough to be safe, but cool enough so as not to perspire excessively. The inner layer of clothing should be a synthetic weave to keep perspiration away from the body. The middle layer should be made of wool or synthetic fabric to absorb sweat and retain as much body heat as possible. The outer layer should be made from a material designed to break the wind (such as Gore-Tex) and allow some ventilation. To prevent frostbite, exposed skin must be covered. Insulated gloves and boots, ear covers and facemasks should be worn. Since almost 40 percent of body’s heat is lost through the head, insulated hats are vital.
Heated items such as vests, head/ear bands, and neck warmers are also available from leading personal protective equipment (PPE) providers. The items are heated by packets that come in various sizes and can also be used in standard clothing such as gloves, hats, and boots.