working with the weather

Working With the Weather

The recent trend of weather fluctuations and several snow events have started me thinking about the contractors and how it affects their work.

Wyomingites are no strangers to cold temperatures, snow, and howling winds. It’s a part of our state’s DNA. Learning to deal with those conditions, and utilizing the proper tools to ensure you stay safe and warm, are important aspects to keep you profitable through our hardest months.

Let’s look at warmth first. Good solid base layers that wick the water away from your body are the foundation to start with when dressing for your day. Brands like Under Armor, Nike, Duluth, and many others offer these products and they are important.

Grandpa’s long johns are not going to cut it here.

You need a thin, quality base to keep your skin dry. Follow this up with multiple layers of quality, thinner products. This allows for better flexibility and the ability to shed layers as you warm up, to stay at the optimal temp and not be sweating.

Finally, cover in a robust outer layer for wind and moisture protection. Brands like Carhartt and Duluth are coming out with a good line of free motion shell layers that really help keep your flexibility high.

If you are like me, my feet get cold first and I constantly struggle with keeping them warm, but not sweating. A couple of things that work really well for me are a good quality, thin wool sock, and a quality waterproof boot. I even go so far as to take fresh socks to change at lunchtime to stay dry. One odd thing that I do on those really cold mornings, is sprinkling some red cayenne pepper on my socks. Be careful here, to much and you will realize how effective it is. Gloves and hats complete the tools to stay warm. Don’t skimp here.

Buy quality products that will serve you well and fit the activity you are doing. Couple all of this with a silk scarf and you will remain toasty and warm.

Other products like Milwaukee’s electric coat, powered by an M12 battery, are phenomenal at keeping you warm and battery life is amazingly good. Products like these can eliminate some or all of the middle layers and keep you more flexible if you are doing a lot of bending throughout the day.

One big benefit of this style of coat is if you are constantly going in and out of heated space, like with a remodel project. When you are inside, you start to overheat rapidly due to the number of layers needed to stay warm outside. An outer shell solution like this allows you to stay warm in sub-zero temps and shed very quickly to your base layer, once indoors.

Working in cold temps also brings challenges for equipment and tends to highlight problems that were not evident in warmer months. Batteries seem to be a common casualty of the cold and slow cranking can cause for starting frustrations.

If a machine is suspect of not starting often, using a good quality, heavy set of jumpers right from the get-go is the best way to go, instead of using them once the battery has started waning.

Block heaters are nice but often there are no handy outlets available. If it’s cold and machines are being started, appropriate warm-up times can substantially extend equipment life.

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