As winter approaches you may find yourself working outdoors, especially if your job demands so.
Working outdoors can put your body under extreme cold stress. Even milder temperatures can take their toll when you’re out all day.
Below are some of the common conditions that can develop when you’re under cold stress due to working outside:
- Trench foot (A condition that occurs when your feet are over-exposed to cold and wet. Signs include blisters and ulcers, red and swollen skin, tingling pain, and ultimately gangrene. Avoid trench foot by wearing thermal socks and good boots.)
The effects of working in the cold aren’t just physical, either.
Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can take a toll on your mental health as well. Winter already affects many people. The lack of sunlight, the isolation that comes with staying at home indoors, and the lack of control as the weather takes over your life can make you feel depressed and deplete your energy.
When you’re out working in the cold on a daily basis, the cold and its effects on your body will affect the way your brain functions. Prolonged discomfort and pain will affect your work performance, leading you to take more time to complete tasks. Hours of working in the cold can impair your mental function, affecting your problem solving and critical thinking skills. That leads to mistakes that could setback schedules or lead to injury.
The good news is that working in the cold for days or years leads to habituation and the mental stress will go down. However, you still need to look after your body.
Dressing to stay warm despite long hours in the cold is the most effective way to prevent frostnip, frostbite, hypothermia, and chronic tissue effects. When you’re working on a cold construction site or anywhere outdoors, you need to be aware of the temperature, wind, and wetness.
Your outermost layer should be wind-resistant and potentially lightweight. A water-proof outer layer will also protect you from snow that melts from your body heat. Look into warm hats for working outside, especially with thermal yarn and reflective stripes for safety.
Underneath a protective outer layer, you need a quality insulating layer. Insulated vests, hoodies, or flannel can help keep your core warm. On your feet, thermal socks will trap warmth around one of your most vulnerable body parts. Check out Heat Holders thermal socks for their Worxx collection – thermal socks with a reinforced heel and toe to stand up to the stresses of work.
You’ll also want an inner layer that both provides warmth and wicks away moisture. Sweat can cool you down quickly in the cold and dampen your clothing. Thermal underwear is a must-have in extreme cold, and it’s also available from Heat Holders.
One final tip: avoid breathing in cold air directly, as it can irritate your respiratory system. A dust-mask with an exhalation valve or even breathing through a scarf can help protect your throat and lungs.
The key to surviving winter outdoor work is dressing appropriately and taking regular breaks to warm up.
Stay safe on the job site and stay warm.