People who work outdoors at an industrial-based jobsite are already quite aware of the hazards they face daily. One such hazard is flash fires. Depending on the field they are in, they might be extremely common or quite rare. Regardless of their frequency, most people expect flash fires to occur during the summer months. However, they can be just as common in the winter.
The chilly air doesn’t stop a fire from raging, which is why fire-resistant clothing is important in cold weather. In this blog post, we’ll go over the possible ways fires can still occur and what you should wear to protect yourself from the heat and the cold.
What Causes Winter Fires
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean a fire won’t be able to take hold of something and burn uncontrollably; fires can be just as expected when there is snow on the ground. Here are some of the ways they can get started on your jobsite.
Most house fires happen in the winter due to people heating their homes in unsafe ways. Even though employers are better at taking safety precautions than your average homeowner since there is a lot more at stake, the need to keep workers warm will lead to eventual fires.
The most common cause is putting a space heater too close to a flammable object. Three feet is a safe distance for most things, but mistakes can still occur. Knocking over a pile of papers, setting down some wood that’s getting heavy, or simply sitting too close to warm yourself up are some of the most common ways people set things on fire with a space heater.
Fortunately, people can easily contain these flames since the person who caused them is usually nearby when it happens. However, that’s not always the case, so you’ll want to make sure that space heaters get turned off when no one is using them. If not, a small flame can quickly turn into an uncontrollable blaze.
Right after space heater mishaps, we have electrical shortages. While these can happen any time of the year, they are more common in the winter. This is because powerlines can quickly freeze and snap, as well as there being a lot of water around from the snow, making electrical sparks more dangerous.
Just like with space heaters, as long as people keep flammable objects far away, there shouldn’t be any issues. However, electrical wires are all over the place on most jobsites, which means doing this is much less feasible. You never know where a short will be and what flammable objects will be nearby when it does. That’s why vigilance is vital on the days when shorts like this are more probable.
Not all accidents involving a work vehicle will end in a ball of flames, but due to slick roads and poor visibility, truck accidents are much more common in the winter. If those trucks are carrying flammable liquids or materials, the situation could quickly get out of hand. Therefore, caution on the road is vital.
Standard Machine Failure
Just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean a machine can’t burst into flames from overheating or malfunctioning. While it’s probably less common in the cold, it’s still possible. Thus, employees need to be aware of the tell-tale signs of a machine that’s about to fail in order to stop it before it actually does.
How Fires Are Made Worse in the Winter
Even though there’s usually snow on the ground, there are certain weather elements that can worsen a fire. Discover what they are below.
The absolute worst weather element to be careful of is strong winds. They are much more common in the winter than in the summer. The amount of cold air they push around makes most people think that they would put out a flame, but they can do quite the opposite.
Wind will bring in fresh oxygen for the fire that will use it as fuel to burn even stronger. Plus, the wind can pick up a few embers and move them further to another location that can burst into flames and spread at a much more rapid pace. If you see a fire break out and feel a lot of wind coming in, you’re going to want to act fast.
The level of the humidity around you can also affect how easily the fire can spread. Low humidity helps flames spread. Luckily, humidity is higher during the winter, but that’s not always the case, especially if it’s been a dry winter. While it’s not as impactful as high winds, humidity still needs to be taken into account.
What You Should Do To Protect Yourself
Now we’ve come to the main section of our guide on why fire-resistant clothing is important in cold weather: the part where we go over what type of FR clothing you should wear to keep yourself safe.
Pay Attention To Temperature Ratings
Many companies these days like to specify whether their clothes are best for hot or cold weather. That trend has started to take hold in the FR clothing industry as well. Next to the fire-resistance rating, you might be able to find a temperature rating that tells you which type of weather the article of clothing is best suited for.
Be Careful With Layering
If you already have a good amount of warm clothing at home, you might be considering layering them together, especially since that makes it easier to control how hot or cold you’ll be while working. Just make sure you only use FR clothing when layering, though. Using a standard shirt can get you just as badly burned as if you were wearing no FR clothing at all.
Make Sure You Can Move Freely
The massive downside to either of these options is that thick clothes or a bunch of layers can reduce your overall mobility. This can have a negative impact on your work output or your ability to get out of the way of various hazards, including fire. It’s a delicate balance that you’ll have to achieve in order to effectively keep yourself warm as well as safe from potential fires.
This is particularly true when it comes to pants, which is why we recommend that you check out our flame-resistant jeans. Their rugged durability and comfortable flexibility make them the perfect fit for keeping warm while staying safe from fires.
The final piece of advice we have for you is simply to remain vigilant and cautious. If we haven’t already made it abundantly clear, fires are still a genuine threat in the winter. If you go about your day acting like they won’t happen, you can very easily get yourself or somebody else hurt. If you take this threat seriously and heed our advice, you should have nothing to worry about.