Dangerously cold temperatures or inches upon inches of snow blanketing the ground can be unsafe for anyone to be outside in. While many people can avoid being outside for too long in the winter, roofers and other outside workers often have no choice.
Fortunately, there are ways to be prepared and minimize the risks of danger while working outside on a roof, or for anyone who is outdoors during the winter. Below are common crises and how to avoid them:
This condition occurs when a person’s body temperature falls below the required level to keep the heart, lungs and other organs functional due to extremely cold weather and moisture. Preparation is key to avoiding hypothermia; if you see the temperatures are supposed to sink below zero, you should wear three specific layers of clothing.
Your first layer should take away body moisture from your skin and be comfortable. The second should provide insulation – materials such as wool or goose down are good for this. The final outer layer should be moisture resistant.
Symptoms of hypothermia include drowsiness, shallow breathing and clumsiness. If you feel that you are experiencing any of these symptoms while working outdoors, call for medical assistance and get inside ASAP.
When skin is exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended period of time, ice particles form in skin cells and frostbite may occur. If you begin losing feeling in hands or other exposed areas, check the color of skin. As frostbite progresses, skin changes to white, yellow and finally blue. Those who are suffering from frostbite should go inside where it is warmer or soak the area in warm water until normal skin color is restored.
This is a major hazard for roofers in the winter. Even on flat roofs, the danger from falling on ice or snow is still there. Specialized boots with extra traction are helpful in these situations as it you will have better footing when moving about the area. Temporary guard rails serve as a barrier to prevent workers from falling over the edge as well. Remove as much snow from the roof as possible before going up.
Winter is not the ideal season for roofing, but with snow, ice and wind it is essential to be able to get the work done. As long as you are cautious and follow proper safety procedure, you (and the roof) will be in great shape!