Sponsor spotlight: Safety tips for working in cold weather

Do you plan on hanging holiday decor or outdoor lighting for the holidays? Here are some tips to stay safe when you’re getting your home all dazzled up.

This helpful information is from the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and we review it annually with our team, as continuing education keeps safety precautions top of mind.

Prolonged exposure to cold, wet and windy conditions — even when the temperatures are above freezing — can be dangerous.

Extreme cold conditions exist when the equivalent wind chill temperature is at or below -25 °F (-32°C).

Wind chill temperature is a function of the actual temperature and the estimated wind speed. Under windless conditions, air provides an invisible blanket around the skin. As wind speed increases, this layer of heated air is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate resulting in apparent temperatures well below the air temperature.

When working in cold weather, here are some simple precautions to take:

– Wear several layers of clothing rather than one thick layer.

– Wear gloves and a warm wool hat or a helmet liner under the hard hat.

Remember that 40% of a person’s body heat can be lost from an uncovered head, so cover the ears. While cotton is lightweight, breathable and comfortable, it has no “wicking” abilities. In fact, cotton absorbs, so it will stay wet and become heavy. In cold conditions, avoid cotton including jeans, t-shirts, cotton socks and 100% cotton thermal underwear. Synthetic or wool is a better choice.

– Wear warm footwear with one or two pairs of warm socks; footwear should not fit too tightly because it will restrict blood flow and may cause more harm than good.

– Wear a scarf or face mask in cold, windy weather.

Take frequent short breaks in a warm shelter to allow the body to warm up. Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

– Drink warm, sweet beverages and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

– Eat warm, high-calorie food such as pasta dishes.

– Those who take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease are at increased risk, so should check with a doctor for additional advice.

Be safe and have a great holiday season.

— By Melissa Irons, Director of Administration
Irons Brothers Construction Inc.

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