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Category Archives: Winter Safety

Winter Wrap-Up: Ice Cleats

wintertraxIce cleats must be sized, worn, and used according to manufacturer’s instructions in order to provide extra traction, grip, and stability on icy terrain. Failure to do so could lead to the very kind of slip-and-fall accidents ice cleats are designed to prevent.

In a similar vein, ice cleats must also be stored and cared for properly during those months when employees return to their ordinary footwear because outdoor walkways are clear of snow and ice. Taking good care of ice cleats during the off-season helps prolong product life and ensures your safety gear will perform as expected next winter. Here are some general care and storage tips that are applicable to most types of ice cleats:

  • Thoroughly clean the product to remove all visible traces of dirt and salt, which can begin to degrade the rubber soles or rust the metal spikes after long-term exposure.
  • While cleaning, visually inspect the soles and individual spikes for signs of damage, including rips, tears, and uneven wear. Replace any damaged cleats that you discover.
  • Label or otherwise mark employee cleats so that the same pair can be distributed to the same person next winter.
  • Designate a specific storage area for the cleats, such as a cabinet, closet, pegged wallboard, or (if you only have a few pairs), drawer. The storage space should be kept dry and pest-free throughout the offseason.
  • Periodically check the storage environment to ensure it is holding up as expected.

Well maintained ice cleats are vital to protecting employees against injuries resulting from slip-and-fall incidents in snowy or icy conditions. Take care of your company’s winter safety gear by cleaning, inspecting, and storing ice cleats and other stabilizing footwear as recommended above.

How to Recognize and Prevent Frostbite

All too often, frostbite is portrayed as something that happens only in very extreme conditions, such as when a person is stranded in an inoperable vehicle for a couple of days in the midst of a blizzard.

But while that kind of dire situation certainly increases the chances of becoming frostbitten, the fact of the matter is that frostbite can begin to occur in a matter of minutes given the right temperature (below 20 degrees) and wind speed (more than 20 mph). In other words, exposed skin may be susceptible to frostbite even if you’re just shoveling the snow in your driveway or walking to the store to stock up on supplies.

To protect yourself from frostbite, it’s important to learn how to recognize and prevent this dangerous wintertime threat. Here are the basics:

Feb 4 recognize and prevent frostbite 2Common symptoms of frostbite

  • Redness or soreness of exposed skin
  • Pale yellow, white, or grayish skin appearance
  • Numbness, prickling, or tingling in the affected area
  • Hardened, waxy looking skin
  • Blister formation
  • Complete loss of feeling in the affected area
  • Darkening or blackening of skin in the affected area

Frostbite prevention tips

  • Dress in several loose layers of clothing, including a moisture-wicking base layer, a wool or fleece insulating layer, and a wind and water-resistant outer layer.
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves to keep hands and fingers warmer. If engaging in an activity where manual dexterity is required, use battery heated gloves for consistent, long lasting warmth.
  • battery heated socksProtect feet and toes with insulated waterproof boots and wool socks. You may also consider wearing battery heated socks that provide up to 14 hours of warming power on a single charge.
  • Cover your head with a knit or wool cap, beanie, or hood to help retain body heat.
  • Since dehydration can speed the onset of frostbite, be sure to drink a glass of water if you plan to be outside for longer than 45 minutes.
  • Take frequent breaks in a sheltered area away from the wind and snow or end your outdoor activity if the weather degrades into dangerous territory.

Frostbite isn’t something that only happens to isolated individuals in remote locations. Anyone can become a victim if the conditions are right, so take the above precautions and be on the lookout for early signs of frostbite whenever you go out in bad weather.

Ice Cleats Guide: Spiked vs. Spikeless

If you’ve never shopped for ice cleats before, then you’re probably wondering if you should choose a spiked or spikeless product. The answer depends on several factors, including how often you or your employees intend to wear the cleats and the environmental conditions in which you expect them to be worn. For example, the kind of traction required for daily use in deep snow and slush is quite different from what’s required for occasional use on packed snow. To help figure out which model is best for your needs, check out this brief guide.

Spikeless ice cleats

Yaktrax Walker ice cleatsSpikeless ice cleats are typically made of a rubber compound and may be reinforced with steel coils for added traction. They are intended for use on packed snow or ice, making them ideal for light outdoor activities such as walking the dog, shoveling the snow, jogging, crossing large parking lots, or for employees working on shipping docks.

Some spikeless models to consider include:

  • Yaktrax Walker
  • Yaktrax Pro
  • Yaktrax Extreme
  • WinterTrax

Spiked ice cleats

Spiked ice cleats are fitted with steel or tungsten carbide spikes or studs that give the wearer maximum stability and traction even on deep snow, ice, and slush. Spiked ice cleats may be classified into medium-duty products that are suitable for urban walkers, amateur hikers, and outdoor runners or heavy-duty products that are intended forWinter Grips Ice Cleats law enforcement officers, postal workers, serious hikers and climbers, and even emergency rescue teams.

Some bestselling spiked models include:

  • WinterGrips
  • GripOns
  • MonsterGrips
  • STABILicers WALK
  • STABILicers MAXX
  • STABILicers RUN
  • Get-A-Grip Due North Advanced All-Purpose
  • Get-A-Grip Due North Ultra Everyday G-3

For more detailed product information on all the spiked and spikeless ice cleat models listed here, or to view our entire inventory of winter traction devices and warming products, visit the CozyWinters website. We also offer special volume pricing on ice cleats for government agencies and corporate entities, so contact us today.

Cold Weather Activity Tips

running snowIf you find it hard to stay motivated to move in winter, you’re not alone. The low temperatures, icy conditions, and short daylight hours combine to derail many a New Year’s resolution or fitness program for folks living in colder climates, especially among those that prefer outdoor activities to indoor substitutes. But you don’t have to resign yourself to the treadmill or wait until spring comes to resume your active lifestyle; just try these tips instead:

Check the weather forecast for the duration of your activity and prepare accordingly.

Although the weather is not likely to change much over the course of a 30-minute walk, you cannot say the same for an activity slated to last several hours or the whole day. Winter storms can brew quickly and unexpectedly, so keep your weather app fired up on your phone and check it frequently while you’re out.

Dress for the activity as well as the weather.

While layers are always a smart idea, the number and kind of layers needed for skiing or snowboarding are quite different from what’s needed for shoveling the driveway. For example, whereas you’d love having our Zanier HEAT-GTX Heated Ski Gloves for the former activities, our battery heated glove liners would be sufficient for the latter.

Similarly, you’ll require more layers and warming products if you’re planning to be a spectator rather than a participant, so consider packing a heated seat cushion if you’ll be spending lots of time sitting and watching.

Keep safety in mind at all times.

Whatever activity you choose to participate in, it’s important to keep safety uppermost in your mind. So, if you’re driving somewhere, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is well stocked. If you’re going hiking or skiing on little used trails, take a GPS device, your smartphone, and extra food and water with you. Try to use the buddy system for all outdoor activities, or at the very least, let someone know where you’re headed and when you plan to return—even if you’re just going for a run around your neighborhood. In addition, consider breaking up your activity into smaller chunks of time (for example, two 15-minute walks instead of one 30-minute walk) to limit exposure to the cold.

Don’t take unnecessary risks.

If the weather is particularly inclement or the temperatures are dangerously cold, it’s perfectly okay to stay indoors until things clear up. At that point, snuggling on the couch with your favorite CozyWinters electric throw would be preferable to risking life and limb for the sake of burning a few extra calories.

 

Staying active in the cold is doable when you pay attention to the weather forecast, make battery heated apparel from CozyWinters part of your layering system, and always keep safety in mind, so make this your mantra for the next few months!

Safety Tips While Wearing Ice Cleats

yaktrax_walkerAs a business owner or safety director at your company, you’re naturally interested in reducing the number of slip-and-fall accidents among your employees this winter. The first step was taking advantage of the volume discount pricing available at CozyWinters to supply each worker with a pair of ice cleats. Now the next item on the agenda is to impart the following ice cleat safety tips to your employees at an upcoming team meeting or via internal memo:

  • Get in the habit of wearing ice cleats whenever walking outdoors—even if only for a few minutes—because accidents can happen at any time. (Employers may refer to the strategies outlined in our previous post on the topic for ideas on promoting and enforcing ice cleat usage.)
  • Walk with a normal gait and stride length when wearing ice cleats.
  • Use extra caution when walking on outdoor stairs and ramps, particularly if carrying packages or pushing a heavy load.
  • Remove ice cleats to climb ladders or traverse non-ice or non-snow surfaces, such as concrete, granite, or marble sidewalks and stairs.
  • Avoid stepping on manhole covers when wearing ice cleats or other snow traction devices.
  • Remove ice cleats prior to going into stores, office buildings, and restaurants since the studs or coils can damage some types of indoor flooring, including linoleum and carpeting, plus those surfaces can be slick to a pair of ice cleats.
  • Be sure to put ice cleats back on before heading outdoors again.
  • Periodically inspect ice cleats to ensure that the studs are still intact. Replace any damaged or broken studs immediately.

Ice cleats are the most affordable and cost effective tool for preventing employee slip-and-fall accidents. But winter traction devices only work if they are worn regularly and if proper safety protocols are followed, so take the time to educate your employees about the tips listed here.

Prevent Cold Stress With These Tips

cold stress blogEvery winter, OSHA issues warnings about the dangers of cold stress, a condition caused by extended exposure to a combination of low temperatures, strong wind, and dampness/wetness.

Cold stress can take a variety of forms, but is usually characterized by shivering, tingling or loss of feeling in the extremities, loss of coordination, and confusion or disorientation. Depending on the length of exposure and severity of symptoms, cold stress can result in hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

If you work outdoors, you can help prevent cold stress by taking proper precautions, including the following:

  • Check the day’s weather report before leaving home so you can have the latest information regarding temperature, wind chill, and projected storms.
  • Dress appropriately for the conditions you expect to face. Layering is always recommended in winter, and can be supplemented with battery heated clothing for additional warmth or waterproof gear to protect against snow and rain.
  • Take special care of your extremities with the help of battery heated gloves and heated socks to prevent frostbite.
  • Sip on warm, caffeine-free beverages or soups to maintain body temperature and energy levels.
  • Take frequent breaks indoors or in a sheltered area to give your body a chance to warm up and/or dry off.
  • Work in pairs whenever possible. If working alone, be sure to let someone know where you are and check in at regular intervals via cell phone or walkie-talkie to confirm your safety and well-being.
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and general cold stress so you can recognize them when they begin to occur.
  • Know the treatment protocols for dealing with affected individuals while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene.

Whether plowing snow, working on a road crew, or repairing electrical lines, any kind of job that takes you outdoors in winter has the potential to result in cold stress. Stay safe by dressing for the weather, using battery heated apparel to protect your core and extremities, and employing the above tips where applicable.

How to Winterize Your Car

snow car helpThe subzero temperatures that hit most of the country from December to February are hard on the human body. This is why so many people use heated mattress pads and electric blankets on their beds and wear Gerbing Gyde heated apparel when they go outside in winter.

Well, those same freezing temperatures can be just as hard on cars, trucks, and SUVs, which is why your vehicle also requires special attention at this time of year. If you haven’t done so already, here’s how to winterize your car to protect it from the elements and keep it running smoothly:

  • Inspect your tires for visible signs of tread wear or other damage. If you drive in an area that gets a lot of snow, be sure to change your all-season tires to snow tires before the first storm.
  • Inflate all tires to the recommended level for winter driving as specified in your owner’s manual.
  • Confirm that your wiper blades are in excellent condition and replace if needed.
  • Check your vehicle’s critical oils and fluids, including engine oil, transmission fluid, and antifreeze, and top off or change as necessary.
  • Swap out your summer emergency kit for a winter version containing such things as sand or kitty litter to use for traction; battery-heated gloves and jacket; electric blanket or sleeping bag rated for subzero temperatures; and portable stove with fuel source.
  • Use heated seat pads or 12-volt heated travel throws in the cabin to keep the driver and passengers warm on longer trips.
  • Apply a rustproofing sealant to the undercarriage of your vehicle to protect against the damaging effects of road salt.

As we noted last week, many regions in the US are expected to experience colder than usual temperatures and above average precipitation this winter because of El Nino. Make sure your car is ready for the onslaught by winterizing it according to the tips listed here.

Winter Weather Forecast for 2015-2016

Winter Forecast 2015 2016Long-range weather predictions can be a useful tool for helping people prepare for unseasonal or extreme conditions. While these forecasts can never be 100 percent accurate, modern technology enables meteorologists to make very reasonable assumptions about what lies ahead. Based on these forecasts, residents in target areas will know in advance if they need to stock up on emergency supplies or get out their battery-heated clothing and ice cleats a little earlier than usual.

So what’s on tap weather-wise for the 2015-2016 winter season? Numerous sources, including the National Weather Service and the old-school Farmer’s Almanac, are predicting the following:

  • California will get more precipitation than usual—in the form of rain, snow, and ice—thanks in large part to El Nino. Thus it would be a good idea for business owners to buy ice cleats and other traction devices for employees not accustomed to navigating the slippery conditions.
  • Major cities in the Northeast such as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York are likely to experience an above average number of storms, so slip-and-fall prevention should be a key concern to employers in those areas as well.
  • Southwestern states like Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas could see unseasonably low temperatures along with more rain and even some snow. Battery-heated apparel, including fleeces and gloves, can help residents cope with the cold.
  • The Mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses parts of Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, could be subject to severe wintry conditions and heavy ice storms. Folks in these areas should have a backup generator ready to go and make sure to use ice cleats and other appropriate safety gear when walking or working outdoors.

Of course, just because you don’t see your city, state, or region listed here among the major predictions doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. We recommend preparing for the worst even as you hope for the best, so visit the CozyWinters website today to start shopping for the heated apparel, electric blankets, and ice cleats you need to get through this El Nino-fueled winter.

Prepare Your Business for Winter

winter_stormWinter storms can disrupt businesses of all sizes, but are particularly bad for smaller entities that don’t have the financial or human resources to form a rapid response to severe weather. Being caught unprepared for a sudden snowstorm can leave businesses vulnerable to everything from slip-and-fall accident claims to structural damage to the facilities. That’s why small business owners are encouraged to prepare early for the coming winter by doing the following:

  • Inspect the roof and gutters for problems in need of immediate repairs. Ensure that all drains and spouts are free of debris so melting snow has a clear path to the ground.
  • Walk around the property after dark to confirm that all parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, and entrances are adequately lighted.
  • Mark parking lot and ground features that may become obscured or hidden due to heavy snowfall. These may include things like speed bumps, fire hydrants, car stops, curbs, shrubs, and anything else that could cause damage to vehicles or injuries to pedestrians.
  • Formulate a response plan to winter storms and emergencies that includes provisions for snow and ice removal, generators and other backup power sources, and evacuation routes for employees. Post the plan in the cafeteria or break room, and distribute a copy to all employees.
  • Install industrial carpeting, mats, and/or runners near entrances and in lobbies to absorb moisture and ward off indoor slip-and-fall incidents.
  • Provide all employees with ice cleats for extra traction when walking or working outdoors and to reduce the chances of accidents and subsequent worker’s compensation claims.
  • Review your insurance policies to confirm that property coverage is adequate and up to date. If necessary, take photos of your offices, warehouse, and inventory to help facilitate replacement in the event of a claim.

Taking the time to prepare your small business for winter can help you avoid disruptions to ordinary operations, damage to property and inventory, and negligence lawsuits. Start protecting your business now by implementing the tips listed here so you’ll be ready for whatever winter weather comes your way.

Employers Can’t Afford to Ignore Winter Safety Hazards

cautionAlthough winter is still a couple of months away, it’s never too early for employers to begin making plans to deal with the safety hazards caused by the season’s abundance of ice and snow. Poor traction and slick surfaces in particular are two concerns that employers simply cannot afford to ignore, as these conditions are leading causes of slip-and-fall accidents that can negatively impact businesses. The average slip and fall injury costs a business $28,000, according to the Bureau of Labor. Costs due to these injuries can add up in the following ways:

  • Direct workers compensation payouts
  • Lost employee work days
  • Decreased on-the-job productivity for injured workers
  • Lower employee morale
  • Possible litigation and punitive damages
  • Legal fees and court costs
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Lost business if victim is a client, customer, or other visitor to the facility

All of the above can happen as the result of a single incident, which is why preventive measures must be taken well before the first snowstorm and why swift responses to inclement weather are required throughout the winter. Some of the most effective actions for avoiding potential slip-and-fall claims include:

  • Mandating the use of ice cleats for all employees that work outdoors
  • Making ice cleats or other traction devices available for office employees that must occasionally walk outside for considerable distances (e.g. across campus or through an airport parking lot)
  • Removing snow from walkways and sprinkling salt on exposed surfaces to melt ice
  • Eliminating uneven surfaces in parking lots and on sidewalks
  • Placing floor mats or carpeting inside doorways to absorb snow, ice, and debris from employees’ footwear

Providing safe winter walking gear for employees and visitors is clearly in everyone’s best interest, not only for avoiding all the detrimental outcomes listed here but also for preventing sprains, broken bones, and other serious injuries. So check out the variety of ice cleats and stabilizers we have on sale now at CozyWinters, and be sure to inquire about volume pricing deals for larger orders.