Bitter Cold

‘Stay Warm': As Bitter Cold Temps Approach, Many Have to Work Outdoors

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Make sure you bundle up on Tuesday if you head out. It will be a dangerously cold day and doctors say it's important to make sure you're taking every precaution.

Just because the temperatures drop doesn't mean Vernon Public Works stops.

"We have a pretty good program for uniforms. We supply winter weather gear. There's insulated coveralls available for the employees as well as heavy parkas. And we have safety equipment as well when they're working in the streets," said Vernon Public Works Director Dwight Ryniewicz.

Ryniewicz said in addition to preparing employees, they also prepare their vehicles for the frigid temperatures.

"We always make sure our fuel is treated with a special cold-weather product to keep it from gelling or waxing, and we make sure our mainline front pieces of equipment are parked indoors where they're plugged in. And they have electric heaters on them," said Ryniewicz.

Over at Golden Nozzle Car Wash on Kane Street in Hartford, assistant manager Pedro Castillo said they'll be open Tuesday.

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While he said he doesn't mind the cold, it's another thing completely when your job involves water.

"Shoes or boots that we wear sometimes, water still gets through. And if it does get cold, then we have to take turns," said Castillo.

The car wash has a booth where workers can also stay warm. Castillo said he'll be wearing a lot of layers to keep warm.

Whether you head out Tuesday because you have to or because you want to, the advice is the same: dress warm.

"Important things are to cover every inch you can of your skin. Make sure kids are wearing face masks or a scarf. Mittens are better than gloves. It's always best to dress in layers when you're going outside. You want to have a nice base layer that's not cotton," said Dr. James Mazo, regional medical director of occupational health and safety for Trinity Health of New England.

Mazo said you want to pay attention to shivering that goes on for several minutes. He said that's a sign to head inside and warm up. There are stages of hypothermia, and it can be deadly.

"You'll notice that your friend may start to get confused. They may not understand where they are, lose perspective of their surroundings , and continue to shiver violently. The last stage you actually stop shivering, and that's an emergency," said Mazo.

Mazo said it's also important to stay hydrated, but that alcohol doesn't count. Alcohol can actually cause you to lose more heat.

"Make sure you stay hydrated. You've got to drink plenty of fluids, and you've got to eat correctly. So you want to make sure you have some carbohydrates and protein on board so your body has the fuel to maintain adequate body temperatures," said Mazo.

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