Working construction in Alaska during the winter months can be brutal and uncomfortable. Keep yourself more comfortable during your long work days this season with these essential winter gear items.
1. Water: It is commonly known that warm weather and activity means a risk of dehydration if one doesn’t stay properly hydrated. However, it is less commonly known that the body is actually at a greater risk of dehydration during the colder winter months than over the warm summer months. This is due to the cold; our bodies sweat less and focus more on keeping our core warm. This leaves us feeling less thirsty yet more in need of water than normal. Without the feeling of thirst reminding us to drink water, it is very easy to get dehydrated during the winter. Avoid this by keeping a water bottle with you at all times, and drink hot teas on your break to warm you up and hydrate you.
2. Hand and Feet Warmers: Many companies will provide these, and if not you can buy them in bulk at Costco. It is easy to ignore the pain associated with freezing hands or feet until they go numb at which point you are facing frostbite. Avoid painful frozen limb problems by keeping hand and feet warmers in your jacket pockets all the time. You never know when you or a coworker might need it.
3. Personal Protection: While personal protection gear is important all year long, equipment such as safety glasses and gloves are even more essential to winter construction working. With the high winds in the Valley all winter, glasses will protect your eyes from flying debris, ice and sand while proper gloves will keep your hands warm, moving properly and protected from cold metal.
4. Layers: Every Alaskan knows that layers are key to winter survival, but they are even more important for a manual labor worker. By wearing layers of proper winter gear you can take off what isn’t needed if the weather warms up or your body gets too warm. Then, when the sun drops and the sweat on your back turns ice cold you can simply put your layers back on to warm back up. A spare shirt or under clothes might be helpful in case sweat makes the clothes too cold.
5. Headlamps: The sun sets really early for the next few months, so being sure to have a headlamp in your winter gear set is important. A good headlamp should fit comfortably and properly light your workspace in front of you. Spare flashlights in your toolbox would be a good idea as well.
6. Proper Footwear: Finding comfortable, quality winter work boots is a task that all Alaskans take seriously. They must be graded to withstand the cold, wet weather of the winter months and they must fit properly all while keeping your feet warm and protected. Steel-toed boots are typically required on any construction jobsite, so finding a pair that fits well, keeps you warm and will last is key to a comfortable winter working outdoors.
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