The extreme cold weather during winter in Michigan can make it difficult for employees who work outside to stay warm throughout their day. Not taking the necessary precautions to stay warm can put the employee at risk for developing several types of cold stress including hypothermia, trench foot, or frostbite. Follow these tips to stay safe and warm while working outside this winter:
- Wear layers of clothing
If you are working outside, it’s important to dress in layers to stay warm. Wear quality warm clothing such as thermal undergarments, insulated pants, coats, and overalls. Make sure that your layers are long enough to cover your waist when you are bending or reaching while working. All clothing should allow adequate blood flow. If you get sweaty, consider removing a layer because inactivity after sweating can cause you to become cold again. To keep your feet warm, double up on socks and make sure your boots are thick and properly insulated.
- Wear gloves
When working outside, choose gloves that will protect your hands from the wind and that have good insulation. Some fabrics, like leather, are very helpful in blocking the wind, and the thin, insulated layer allows you to move your fingers while remaining warm.
- Keep your feet and head covered
Cold weather can be especially harmful in these areas. Wear insulated and water-resistant boots, as well as a warm hat and, if necessary, a facemask. Make sure your ears are covered.
- Keep moving
Moving around, even on your downtime, will help you to stay warm. Do some form of physical activity, such as stretches, jumping jacks or pacing.
- Work in pairs
Working in the extreme cold, it is a good idea to work in pairs or a team. This allows other people to watch for the initial subtle symptoms of cold stress. Intense shivering and confusion are among the most common signs.
- Consume hot beverages
Drinking warm beverages like coffee and tea throughout the day will help to keep you warm and fight the cold-induced lethargy.
- Eat a warm lunch
Eating a warm lunch will help warm your body up and keep you warm as you continue to work through the rest of the day.
By taking the necessary precautions to stay warm while working outside during the winter, you will be able to diminish your risk of hypothermia, trench foot, and frostbite.