Tips on Keeping Warm & Well
Cold weather can be a real drag for outdoor workers. Freezing temperatures, bitter wind chill factors, even frostbite can take their toll on employees' health, motivation and productivity. Here are some tips to keep you and your workers warm and well all winter long.
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
The temperature of each body part is directly related to blood flow to that area. When the outside temperature drops, your body automatically directs blood vessels near the surface of the skin to constrict in order to redirect blood flow toward vital internal organs like the heart and brain. It's the body's way of keeping vital organs warm and working. Hands and feet, which have many blood vessels at the skin's surface, are particularly sensitive to this process and lose much warming blood as a result.
Physical activity counters the cold by increasing flow of warming circulation. The good news is that a little effort can go a long way.
Don't Just Sit There! Standing will increase your heat production by 20% over sitting.
- Get Into The Swing! For icy hands, swing arms windmill-style.
EAT TO HEAT
Eating is another antidote to cold, since the digestion process produces heat. Choose something hot. Cocoa and Jalapenos! Although the amount of actual heat ingested is small, hot foods and beverages give the nervous system a warmth signal that encourages blood flow to the extremities. Spicy foods will do this too.
THE ART OF LAYERING
- Skip the Bud, Bud! Alcohol is poor choice when you're chilled. Alcohol is dehydrating and may suppress shivering, the involuntary muscle contraction through which the body warms itself.
- No Smoking! Tobacco also constricts blood vessels and acts to cool the body.
- Meat to Heat! Eating foods high in iron such as red meats and green leafy vegetables can help keep you warm. The body needs iron to make the thyroid hormone which stimulates heat production.
Air trapped between layers of clothes insulates better than a single heavy garment. Here are the basics.
- Layer 1. Start with an undershirt or long johns in fabrics which trap body heat and wick moisture away from skin. Socks should be made of wool or wick-dry synthetic like Coolmax.
- Layer 2. Wear long-sleeved cotton denim or flannel shirts which allow moisture to evaporate.
- Layer 3. Pants and vests made of wool keep body core warm without bulk. Water-proof boots with felt liners or other insulation keep feet dry and warm.
- Layer 4. Choose coats and jackets with fleece linings and outer shells made of wind- and water-resistant PVC coated nylon. Fleece is the fabric favored by professional skiers an mountain climbers because it retains natural body warmth even when wet and has a very high "warmth to weight" ratio making it effective without being bulky. Quilted poly/cotton is another excellent lining material. The quilting traps and retains body heat.
- Layer 5. Hot Rods Winter Liners, Hats, Neck Warmers and Vest put climate control on your side to keep the entire body warm, especially when Hot Rods Warming Packs are inserted in garment pockets..
Hot Rods Winter Liners and Warming Packs keep you warm and protected against winter's worst weather conditions. Simply slip air-activated, all day Hot Rods Warming Packs into Winter Liners, hats, headband, neck warmer or vest pockets and experience long lasting, super warming, all day heating action. Warming Packs are also work very well in gloves, shoes and pants pockets.
Understanding The Wind Chill Factor & Frostbite
" Wind Chill" is a frequently misunderstood term. It is not actually a temperature scale but a measurement of heat loss from the combined effect of wind and low temperatures. Another way to look at the wind chill factor is that it is the temperature a person feels because of the wind. If you've ever used a fan to cool yourself on a hot day, then you've felt the effects of a wind chill. A breeze doesn't make the temperature drop, but it can make it seem as if the temperature is cooler than it actually is.
Here's how it works.
The basic law of thermodynamics says that any object warmer than its surroundings will lose heat. Normally we have an invisible layer of "still" air on the surface of our skin that acts like a blanket of insulation and slows our loss of body heat. Blowing wind reduces this insulating layer of warm air next to our skin and increases our rate of heat loss. The faster the wind blows, the more quickly we lose heat. Secondly, wind draws away body heat by quickly evaporating any moisture that forms on the skin; the stronger the wind, the greater the evaporation and the colder you feel.
The wind chill factor becomes critical when the air temperature drops below the freezing point.
If wind is taking away heat faster than our bodies can replace it, we can end up with frostbite. The danger of frostbite increases sharply as the air temperature falls and the wind speed climbs.
Frostbite occurs when skin and the underlying tissues freeze. The areas most likely to be affected by cold temperatures or low wind chill factor are the hands, feet, nose, and ears. The symptoms of frostbite are a definite lack of sensitivity to touch, although there is probably a sharp, aching pain. The skin becomes hard, pale, cold and white patches may be seen. In severe cases the blood vessels are damaged. To treat frostbite, never rub or immerse the affected area in hot water. Use warm water, 100º F to 105º F. Or warm the area with dry, gloved hands. Do not walk on feet. If the skin tingles and there is a burning sensation when warming, the circulation is returning. If numbness remains, seek professional medical care immediately.
The following chart is a wind chill guide to winter danger and frostbite.
The wind chill factors shown in darker blue indicate the danger zones for when frostbite can occur within only 15 minutes of exposure. To use the chart below you'll need to know two things. First: the actual temperature and secondly, a good guess at the wind speed. Find your wind speed in the left-hand column and then read across the row until you find the column that comes closest to matching the actual air temperature (listed in the first row of numbers across the top of the chart). The number you find in the box at the intersection of the wind speed row and the temperature column is the wind chill factor. For example: An air temperature of 40º F when combined with winds of 20 MPH results in a wind chill factor, or equivalent human heat loss rate, as if the temperature were actually only 18º F.
Note: for wind speeds under 5 miles per hour, there is no significant wind chill factor and for wind speeds above 45 miles per hour the wind has no further appreciable effect.Wind Chill / Frostbite Guidelines
- 30° F or greater. Chilly. Generally unpleasant
- 15° F to - 30° F Cold. Unpleasant.
- 0° F to -15° F Very cold. Very unpleasant
- - 0° F to - 20° F Bitter cold. Frostbite possible
- - 20° F to - 60° F Extremely cold. Frostbite likely. Outdoor activity becomes dangerous.
- - 60° F or less Frigidly cold. Exposed flesh will freeze within 30 seconds.