Preparing for extreme cold

With much of the Midwest expecting extreme cold this week, I though I would re-post some tips for dealing with cold weather.  Click here for some general tips on working in extreme cold

In addition to these general guidelines, there are a couple of extra things to think about specific to farming:

As much as you can, try to prepare for the cold ahead of time to minimize how much time you have to spend outside. Make sure that animals have warm bedding before the cold hits, prepare extra feed, and take care of any urgent work before it gets dangerously cold.  A lot of times you can’t avoid going out completely, but cutting down your exposure by even a few minutes or hours by doing extra prep work now can be a big help.  Along similar lines, make sure that you have snow cleared and that everything is salted/sanded beforehand.  There tends to not be as much snow when it gets super cold, so you might even be able to get away with not shoveling or sanding if you have everything set up beforehand.

Also be careful if you’re using space heaters for shops and barns, especially if this will be the first time you’re using them this year.  Click here for some propane heater safety tips and here for electric space heater safety.

Hands and feet are particularly vulnerable to the cold.  This is especially true if your boots aren’t big enough to accommodate multiple pair of socks.  I’ve actually had good luck buying a second pair of work boots specifically for winter that are a size or two bigger than what I normally wear and wearing 2 or 3 pair of wool socks in them. I also layer my regular gloves with a pair of larger size fleece lined mittens.  Also there are a wide assortment single-use and reusable heated liners available to put in shoes and in gloves.  I’ve never tried the rechargeable ones, but I’ve used to use the single-use ones  and they seemed to help a lot.

Finally, consider taking breaks to thaw out while you’re working, and move to somewhere heated, especially if you’re experiencing shivering, fatigue, or numbness in your face or extremities . It’s better for a job to take longer than usual or be less efficient than usual than it is to end up with hypothermia or frostbite. Stay safe out there!

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