For the second time in January, the middle section of the U.S. is gripped in what I'll call the Polar Vortex 2.0. For HVAC contractors who have to travel and work in this, I take my hat off to you. And believe me, when it's -33F with the wind chill, I AM wearing a hat.
Here in Cleveland, OH, many commercial offices are closed today. The sun is out. The sky is blue. and the air temperatures are a mere 7F with double-digit wind chills blowing through. Being safe and warm at home is awesome, but for the HVAC contracting community, this is a busy and dangerous time of year.
The reason: heating system failures. These pose grave health and safety issues if not corrected right away. So how does this impact the service technicians who are out and about in these conditions? On HVAC-Talk.com, one professional poster wrote this:
"Besides the wind chill effect, the darned wind blows snow into every crack and crevice of what I'm wearing. I dress correctly for the weather ... but it still isn't much fun. Especially when I have to take off my heavy gloves and work wearing only the thin inner liners in order to handle small parts and such. Only takes a few minutes touching metal, for the hands to get so stiff I can barely move my fingers. Then I have to stop, warm them up for a while before I continue on. Makes the whole repair process MUCH slower."
According to the Canadian (yes I said Canadian -- they KNOW cold up there, right?) Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), "A cold environment challenges the worker in three ways: by air temperature, air movement (wind speed), and humidity (wetness). In order to work safely, these challenges have to be counterbalanced by proper insulation (layered protective clothing), by physical activity and by controlled exposure to cold (work/rest schedule)."
The CCOHS has some very specific clothing tips you should check out.
Frostbite is a very real concern. Exposed skin can get frostbitten within minutes of exposure to the elements. Here are some tips for looking for signs of frostbite.
From a clothing standpoint, this website for police officers offers some VERY useful tips on what to wear and not wear, how to dress in layers, and much more. This is excellent advice for HVAC contractors as well.
My point is this:L HVAC contractors are out there, right now, helping people in a major way. They are exposing themselves to the elements in the name of safety and health and I, for one tip my hat to them.
If you have any "war stories" on what it's lik to work in this kind of weather and the precautions you take in the name of health and safety, please share them with us here, on HVAC-Talk.com, or via social meda: Twitter and Facebook in particular.
Stay safe my friends.