Keeping Ourselves Warm while Working in Cold Conditions

Winter has been here for nearly a month now. Every year it takes a toll on people in the workplace. Various issues arise with cold weather, such as freezing surfaces, brittle hardware, and discomfort. Here we’ll focus on keeping ourselves warm while working in cold conditions, whether it’s an all-day exposure—like in construction—or walking to your office in freezing temperatures. There are several factors to consider.

First, and probably the most obvious, is clothing.

Layering works well as warm air from your body heat gets trapped between layers of clothing. Items such as thermal shirts, long underwear, and sweaters are great ways to maintain heat. Also, using wind-blocking materials over these layers adds protection against the cold as wind-chill can change how the air feels substantially! Now, here’s where it may get tricky, don’t overdress! If you begin to sweat, you’re probably too warm, and as soon as the outside air hits sweat-soaked material, that chill will impact you quite quickly. Windchill is another reason why layering is essential; as the day warms up, delayering can help regulate your body temp. Finally, try not to wear cotton materials as they stay wet for long periods. Special moister wicking materials have been engineered to help regulate body temperature and keep you dry.

Most of us have experienced frozen toes.

This is incredibly uncomfortable, and if they aren’t warmed up effectively and quickly, there is a risk of frostbite, though this is extreme. Like clothing, weather-resistant footwear can be effective in delaying chilled toes. Like the rest of your body, keeping your toes dry is crucial; that said, waterproof, or at least water-resistant footwear helps immensely. Wool socks are preferred in cold conditions as well. As mentioned above, cotton is highly discouraged. Many hybrid materials are more effective than cotton at keeping your feet warm and dry. Finally, regarding footwear, if you’re in an environment where there’s a potential for ice, make sure your shoes or boots are appropriate for mitigating slips.

It may be necessary to have separate sets of clothing and footwear with you if you work inside most of the day. We don’t want to go from a chilly environment to overheating in the office. Being comfortable helps with productivity!

One of our body’s most effective temperature regulators is blood flow.

Healthy circulation is vital in keeping warm, and with that said, exercise is important! To put it simply, regular cardiovascular exercise may help increase your body’s efficiency in thermoregulation. Going for a walk on your lunch break, if possible, is a great way to get a little exercise in the middle of the day! Of course, consult your physician before starting any exercise routine or changing your diet.

Finally, make sure you get plenty of sleep; fatigue can dampen your body’s ability to thermoregulate!

Winter doesn’t have to be such a rough time of year as long as we manage the elements well. Let’s take care of ourselves by preparing for chilly days. Here are a few more quick suggestions; keep an extra pair of socks and a jacket in your car. Also, have a pair of gloves on hand (pun intended) and a stocking cap to keep your ears warm and help slow the release of body heat.

Now, go outside, stay warm, and have fun!

Photo from Unsplash Tyler Rutherford

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