How to

11 May 2016

5 Tips for Working Outdoors in Winter

To some, the winter months are an exciting time. Snow, lit fireplaces, walks in the countryside, all that cold weather appropriate food and so on. For anyone who works outside, whether it be on a building site, a location shoot, an excavation or a nature preserve, the low temperature will eventually start to interfere with your focus, and your health.

Obviously, outdoor workers have to take a different approach to everyone else when winter comes, they have to think more carefully about what they wear, how much they’re moving around and other hazards. Here are 5 tips for those expecting to work outside this winter which will make a world of difference.

Insulation is Your Friend
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It’s one thing to wear a big, thick woollen jacket when you’re out on a walk in the cold, but if you’re working, and thereby breaking a sweat, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare. A lot of insulated clothing is designed for sports or outdoor activity, but there are a whole range of designs specifically intended for working. Many ranges, such as this one (http://www.flexitog.com/Clothing/Jackets/) come with a range of different levels of insulation, as well as features like high visibility lining so that you’re still visible in a low light, a very important aspect of outdoor work all year round, but especially in winter.

Regulate Your Activity Levels

Low temperatures affect blood-flow, and your body is having to work that much harder to keep your temperature under control, which leaves less energy reserves for other things. For this reason, you must do everything you can to avoid overexerting yourself. Take regular breaks, one every half an hour if you can, and if you start to feel tired, stop for 5 minutes and see how you feel. It might sometimes seem like you can’t stop, or that you’re capable of keeping up the same pace all day, but it’s extremely unwise to do so. Try and implement a buddy system if there isn’t one already, and try and get somewhere warm during your breaks.

Beware of Ice

There are many different kinds of ice, some is easy to spot and unlikely to cause any issues, other kinds are the exact opposite, and without proper care, it can spell disaster. It is absolutely imperative when you’re working outside to be wary of ice. Black ice in particular is nearly invisible when it builds up on roads and pavements, and it’s exceedingly slippery. Always walk slowly, examine the ground from different angles to see if it catches the light, use hand rails if they’re there or keep your arms out for balance and wear the right shoes. Shoes with proper, rubber slip resistant treads are a must, and if you do find yourself needing to walk over ice, do it flat footed, very slowly, and with another person close by.

All this goes double for driving. For more detailed information on how to prep your car, go here (http://www.keepmewarm.com/2016/04/how-to-prepare-your-vehicle-for-extreme.html), but for now let’s stick to the basics. Keep at least 4 seconds between you and the car in front, take corners slowly in low gears and don’t accelerate too hard out of them and keep your dipped beams on at all times.

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Drink Enough Fluids

This doesn’t just mean keeping a consistent supply of tea or coffee on the go, you need to keep yourself hydrated more in cold weather than you normally would. Water is good, hot tea is better, and isotonic sports drinks are best. In keeping your body warm, you’re burning up a great deal of energy, which drinks like Lucozade can help to replenish. Eating a healthy, high carb lunch is also helpful, and it’s even worth having an energy bar or two to hand for another extra little boost.

Review Your Training

There’s no such thing as too much preparation, and there are a number of training courses you can do which are even more applicable when you’re thinking in terms of outdoor work. First aid training is the most obvious of these, but things like ladder training, health and safety awareness courses and particularly cold weather safety or cold stress courses. Any of these can be done at training centres across the UK and beyond.



Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.