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Tips for Working in Cold Weather
As we head into winter, some parts of the country are already experiencing extreme cold. For police officers, especially those assigned to remote areas, it’s extremely important to properly plan and prepare. Failing to do so can result in serious injury or even death. Cold can be just as deadly as extreme heat.
- The most important factor is choosing the right outer gear and wearing it. Just like your other safety equipment, it doesn’t work unless you use it. It’s easy to underestimate the extreme cold when you’re inside a vehicle, but a standard police jacket won’t cut it when you’re out for more than just a few minutes. You can’t count on being able to stay inside your car. When the call comes and you’re outside for a while, that standard police jacket quickly becomes inadequate. Alzaharna says she frequently operated her patrol vehicle wearing a full parka.
- Good footwear is also important. Have more than one pair of boots so they’re always dry. In extreme cold, you may need bunny boots. Don’t let the name fool you—they were designed for the military and have about an inch of insulation sandwiched between two waterproof materials. A good pair of galoshes worn over the boots can keep your feet dry and add a layer of protection.
- Socks and undergarments should serve to wick away moisture. Cotton against the skin isn’t a good idea. Battery operated socks can warm your lower extremities. Sounds like a luxury, but they’re priceless when you need them.
- The human body loses a lot of warmth through the head area. Head gear including a knit cap and full-face protection when the wind is howling will make a big difference. Chudwin likes the fleece balaclavas with a neck protector.
- Rain gear should have removable insulated liners. Again, keeping dry is essential to staying warm. Chudwin’s choice comes from Blauer.
- Small packet hand and feet warmers work. Carry a good supply and use them to ward off the extreme cold.
- Gloves and more gloves. The colder it gets, the heavier the gloves need to be. You’ll need different levels of protection and operational capability. Whatever you carry, make sure you have trained with the equipment. Gloves will absolutely affect the way you handle a firearm and surprises are the last thing you need.
- Keep packets of coffee, tea and hot chocolate in a plastic bag; also the instant soups or packaged noodles. All you need is hot water and you’re good to go. Providing liquid warmth to your inner core helps maintain body temperature and comfort. Make sure you keep a metal spoon in your bag. With the spoon and a good knife (essential) you can eat anything.
- Equipment has to be capable of working in the extreme cold. Alzaharna says they really put their firearms to the test and chose Glock handguns and Remington shotguns. “We never had a cold weather malfunction,” she said.
- You can mitigate the impact on your gear by keeping items close to your body and underneath outer layers. This will help batteries to last a lot longer.
Train in your cold weather gear. “We trained in the dead of winter wearing all our gear,” said Alzaharna, who worked as a firearms instructor. Prepare now to stay warm, wind proof and dry. All three are important to your comfort and, more importantly, to officer safety.
Originally published by Law Officer
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Be sure to check out all of the new 2017 Conferences on the Conference page. To register, please click on the conference name and view relevant instructions. Contact MSA at 573-635-5925 or more information. We look forward to seeing you!
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler jovially remarked he would like to admit his law enforcement career path is the result of some grand plan. Instead, it has been a mixture of being in the right place at the right time while being prepared for the next career step.