Posted by Bethan Bithell on 23rd Dec 2013
As winter draws in and nights get longer, temperatures start to drop and so extra clothing is needed. There are many obvious cold weather dangers such as ice and snow, but what about the ones you don’t see.
Just because it’s got colder doesn’t mean we stop working outside. We need to be aware of the dangers and be prepared.
Perhaps you are farmer who’s out every day feeding the sheep, fixing fences or carrying fresh water. Or perhaps you look after horses, your hands are constantly in water, washing buckets, checking they have fresh water and carrying wet hay nets. The last thing you want is to feel cold!
Dangers of working out in the cold
There are many dangers we need to beware of, such as the following:
Hypothermia is when your body temperature drops below 95 Fahrenheit. The symptoms of mild hypothermia includes confusion and disorientation. Being cold will cloud your judgement and this is when mistakes happen. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause serious accidents.
Frostbite occurs when a part of your body freezes and as a result there is tissue damage. Fingers, toes, nose and ears are all prone to frostbite. If frostbite takes hold, then the tissue may need to be removed to prevent it from spreading.
Another danger of the cold is trench foot. This occurs when the feet are exposed to extreme cold and wet situations for a length of time. These symptoms include numbness, reddening of the skin, blisters, gangrene, swelling and leg cramps.
Chilblains occur when parts of your body is repeatedly exposed to temperatures just above freezing. Symptoms include redness, itching, blistering, inflammation and possible ulcerations.
Be sure to protect yourself
Below is a checklist of what you need to do and wear when working out in the cold.
Wear the right clothing
- Plenty of layers to allow insulation – tight clothing prevents blood from circulating
- Waterproof and breathable hats, gloves and socks such as Sealskinz 3 layer technology range. Breathable clothing allow moisture to escape
Walking in Snow – Thermal Gear
Snow you can see. The main hazard is ice! Walking on snow or ice is especially dangerous.
Checkout our checklist below on being safe when walking in snow and ice:
Wear the right boots
- Make sure there is plenty of tread on the sole of your boots
- Waterproof liner to keep snow and rain out
- Make sure you re-proof your boots with a suitable waterproof boot re-proofer, such as Nikwax fabric and leather proof or waterproofing wax for leather
Wear warm socks including liner socks
- Coolmax liner socks will keep warmth in but extract moisture so your feet remain warm and dry
- Merino socks are extremely warm and comfortable to wear
- Silk liners are cosy, warm and comfortable
- Ice grips for shoes
These grips which fit to the bottom of your walking shoes or boots will give you extra grip when walking on ice and will stop you from slipping
Thermal base wear
Wearing layers is the key to staying warm. The key to this layer is the moisture wicking fabric which draws away any moisture from the body to prevent you “catching a chill”!
Bamboo base-layers are highly breathable and antibacterial
Mid-layers will need to provide a lot of thermal insulation. In order to keep warmth in and around your body it is necessary to wear mid-layer clothing that has been constructed using loose weave fabrics. This way pockets of warm air is circulated to help maintain a good body temperature
Top layer clothing
This layer of clothing protects you from the elements. The top layer needs to be made from a breathable fabric and needs to be well ventilated to ensure the 3 layer system works.
Heat escapes through the top of your head. Therefore keeping your head covered is vital to staying warm. Just because your head does not feel cold, does not mean heat is not escaping. If your hands and feet are cold then you are losing heat from the head area. A safety mechanism in your body is in place to protect your head and that’s why your hands and feet get cold first!
Walking in snow safely
When driving in snow or ice your full concentration is on the road. If out walking in snow or ice, make it easy for drivers to see you. Wear brightly coloured clothing such as high visibility jackets or waistcoats or even reflective neck gaiters or hats. Remember, whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it difficult for you to hear traffic.