As winter is creeping up on us, and probably already has in some sections of the country, it’s important that we know all the tricks of staying warm. For those who work in the outdoors, it is very important to be protected from the elements. Employers are responsible to see that working conditions do not put their employees’ health at risk, so they should inform workers on what to expect and how to protect themselves.
In earlier articles, Cold Stress Equation Parts I and II, we have gone into detail about this very subject; Part II especially describes how to recognize and prevent frostbite and hypothermia, and what to do to if a person experiences either of these. As stated earlier, it is important that layering the right types of clothing with a waterproof top layer is a good plan.
Eating small, hot, and even spicy foods give the nervous system a warmth signal that encourages blood flow to the extremities. Drinks with caffeine constrict blood vessels, making the extremities colder. Alcohol is dehydrating and suppresses shivering, the involuntary muscle contractions that help the body warm itself. Tobacco also constricts blood vessels and cools the body by reducing circulation. (It goes without saying that alcohol shouldn’t be consumed while working, anyway, but if you are outdoors for hunting or sports, keep this in mind – it won’t warm you up!)
There are products made especially to help keep you warm. Keep these in mind when looking for just the right thing:
- Slush boots, rainwear
- Winter liners
- Warming packs that you can carry in pants, gloves, and shoes
Outdoor exposure should be limited if possible, but for those who face working outdoors on a daily basis, stretching the muscles before work helps warm up the muscles and prevent muscle pulls. Remember to drink lots of water, as well. A change of dry clothes can come in handy when having to endure windy, humid days.