Walking in a winter wonderland
The science behind staying warm
Your body temperature should be between 36.5°C and 37.5°C, if you get too hot, your body will cool itself down by lowering your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and sweating and if you are too cold your BMR will rise and you will begin to shiver in an attempt to warm yourself up. If you are in extreme conditions for a prolonged period of time, your body may become unable to sufficiently regulate itself and eventually your organs won’t be able to function. There are a number of actions you can take to help your body to regulate itself sufficiently.
Why is it important to stay warm?
Your comfort is not the only reason it is important to keep your temperature regulated. Freezing temperatures can cause a lot of damage, and in some cases it can be fatal.
Frostbite: This is serious as it can’t be reversed. The layers of skin and deeper tissue freeze, damaging the capillary walls and making the cells in the affected area sensitive and inflamed.
Treatment: Treating frostbite will need to be carried out by a doctor and may include rewarming, protecting the injury from infection and removing the damaged tissue. If left untreated, frostbite can lead to nerve damage or in the most severe cases amputation.
Chilblains: These are small itchy swellings on the skin. They most often affect the extremities, such as fingers, and are caused by bad circulation in the skin due to exposure to cold, damp conditions.
Treatment: In the unfortunate case of chilblains, rewarm the skin slowly, without applying direct heat or rubbing the skin. Apply a corticosteroid cream to ease the itching and clean the skin with an antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection. Don’t scratch the affected area as this could leave scarring.
Hypothermia: This occurs when your body temperature drops below 35°C- blood is receptive to changes in temperature as small as 0.5°C, so a drop of around 2°C can be lethal. They symptoms will begin with shivering and progress to confusion, slurred speech and a slowing heart and respiratory rate.
Treatment: If a worker appears to have hypothermia seek immediate medical attention. While waiting for assistance to arrive, gently move the person out of the cold to a warm, dry location, remove any wet clothing and cover in blankets leaving only the face exposed, monitor breathing and supply them with warm beverages.
Choosing the perfect winter glove
On average it takes 10 days for the human body to adjust to new weather conditions, so choosing the perfect winter glove is vital in protecting your hands.
When working in cold environments, body heat needs to be retained. Winter hand protection should have two layers; the outer layer for cut protection, and the inner insulating layer. Fingertips are one of the first places to lose heat, so make sure they are well insulated. Poor quality safety gloves will compromise the protection of fingertips. A glove with a built-in insulating layer, or a separate thermal liner, will reduce this problem.
Whilst warmth should be a high priority in the winter months, there should be no less emphasis on getting a glove suitable for the task. If workers don’t have enough dexterity to carry out their tasks, they may be forced to remove their gloves, leaving them totally unprotected to the weather and other risks involved. Workers could also have to train their hands to get the job done when wearing safety gloves with inadequate grip, leading to further injuries and lost time.
Fit is vital
Safety gloves come in a variety of sizes for a reason. Make sure each worker has a well fitted pair of gloves. If they’re too tight it will stop the blood flowing freely around the hand, resulting in poor dexterity. By contrast, gloves that are too loose may cause the cold to get in and can be dangerous when using power tools- excess fabric may become caught in rotating equipment.
In contact with water
Increased rain can also cause hazards to workers hand safety. When exposed to cold water temperatures, body heat can be lost up to 25 times faster. It sounds simple but when working with wet components, make sure the safety glove has a waterproof coating. If immersing hands fully in water, wear a fully coated waterproof glove with a thermal liner for extra thermal protection. Risk of slipping increases in wet conditions, which can also cause hand injuries, therefore cut protection is still an important consideration.
Your perfect winter glove
To get an idea of the variety of different winter gloves we offer, check out some of our favourites below:
You can download our full winter catalogue and find out about all the products we have on offer for those chilly winter months.