With winter in full swing, many of us have already experienced the dreadful frozen fingers.
Whether you work outside or love the outdoors, winter can be hard. That’s inevitable. But… cold hands don’t have to be.
Outdoor workers know from experience that hands are more vulnerable to the cold and its resulting damages. The skin of our hands is thin and has a high concentration of blood vessels that can get cold very easily and can quickly lose their mobility.
The main culprit? Lack of moisture.
During winter, the humidity in the outdoor air plunges. And inside, thanks to heating, things are even drier. And since we’re washing our hands quite frequently these days and using a lot of hand sanitizer, whatever natural oils left in our skin is often sapped.
How do I protect my hands against the cold while working outside?
Understanding how to protect your hands against the cold and choosing a pair of gloves designed for winter outdoor work is essential for your optimal comfort and safety.
Five key elements to understand for winter hand protection
1. Humidity is not your friend
When in contact with skin, water increases conductivity, which then accelerates energy loss. Any excessive energy loss will cause premature fatigue in addition to the discomfort from the cold.
Humidity in a cold environment can lead to frostbites. Its initial symptom usually is a tingling sensation that may go as far as to complete and prolonged paralysis of a limb, such as a hand, arm, or foot.
Gloves with waterproof coating are ideal for preventing water from touching your skin and ensuring maximum comfort. Elastic wrists can also provide full protection in rainy weather.
2. What about the glove?
The material used to create the glove impacts its efficiency to protect you against the cold and humidity.
Synthetic materials tend to dry more quickly than leather. But leather is usually more wear resistant. Do you need dexterity? The glove made from synthetic materials will be the best choice for you.
When choosing your outdoor work glove, avoid cotton at all costs. It is one of the worst materials to wear in harsh cold weather because of its poor insulating properties.
Insulation, extended cuffs, and Velcro straps are all interesting features to look for in a pair of winter gloves. Make sure it fits your tasks, and to choose the right feature for the job.
3. Choose the right glove size
The size of the gloves you are wearing is equally important to ensure optimum protection.
A bigger pair of gloves allows wind and rain to enter, which remove all insulating properties of your equipment, no matter its quality.
On the other hand, a smaller glove won’t fit properly on your fingers and wrists, which will cause retention issues. A tight glove can cut off the blood flowing to your fingers, significantly reducing motricity.
4. Adapted to outdoor conditions
To make the right equipment decision, have in mind the type of conditions from which you must protect your hands. Cold and dry air? Cold humidity and sharp surfaces? Rain, or abrasive surfaces? Selecting a glove that will protect you against the conditions you face, and only that will be beneficial.
5. Tailored for your work
The job you do and the sector you work in may expose you to some specific risks. Keep this in mind on your next shopping trip to choose a glove made for professional use. Different standards can help you choose the right equipment.
Also, remember that time and repeated use can cause damages to your gloves. Take care of them by gently washing and air-drying them to extend their lifespan.
Above all, know that injuries caused by the cold are sometimes irreversible. Quality equipment, even if expensive, is worth consideration.