The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 26, 2013

Cold weather makes it challenging for outdoor workers

Star Beacon

— Frigid temperatures, heavy winds and snow by the foot make it challenging for those who make their living outdoors.

“I think when you are outside it is important to dress in layers so if you get hot you can take something off,” said Gene Lutz chief of the Madison Fire District.

Even though it is cold, it is important to drink enough fluids, Lutz said. For those who must be outside fighting fires it is important not to stay in one place for long.

“We have to keep moving. You have to hydrate yourself as well,” he said.

Geneva City Manager Jim Pearson has seen bad weather from the street and from behind the administrator’s desk. He said the first significant weather incident of each year usually creates a challenging situation as everybody reacts to the weather change.

“You get over your bumps in the road,” Pearson said of the first large storm.

Pearson said he has memories from his days as a police officer hitting the streets of Ashtabula. “We literally did walk the beat when I started,” he said.

“There were some really intense times with wind blowing and snow three feet deep,” Pearson said.

Technology has really helped public service employees. “We now have a couple of four-wheel drive (vehicles). It’s a little hard to get those Crown Victoria’s (around in the snow),” he said.

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said the department encourages officers to dress warm with multiple layers of clothing and gloves, ear muffs and hats.

“If we are outside for any length of time we try to trade (jobs) off,” Stell said.

Stell said he remembers long cold standoffs where it was difficult to stay warm, but officers were not able to leave the scene.

“I remember standoffs where you have the house surrounded,” Stell said of winter incidents that make it very difficult to keep warm.