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Cold Weather Tips

Safety to survive the ‘Cold Snap’

Dealing with a cold snap essentially means one thing – taking practical action to get through without injury. During cold snaps  emergency units of hospitals are inundated with people with weather related injuries mainly due to slipping and falling causing nasty breaks and fractures and head injuries. The challenge is to prevent such injuries.

Slips and Falls in Farmyard

The key here is to have clear tracks around the farm to prevent slipping and falling. De-icing salt is available from co-ops for around €200/tonne or €5-€6 per 25 kg bag. Confining the area of walk-way keeps the cost to a minimum.
Frozen ice particularly under snow is particularly dangerous and should be avoided. This can arise from leaking taps or gutters so avoid where possible. Hot water melts the ice, but make sure the water is swept away as it causes an ‘ice-rink’ when it cools down and freezes.

Herding Stock

Going out into fields to herd and feed stock is associated with injury risk. It is best to do this work during the early or middle of the day to avoid nightfall. Make sure that you are wearing adequate clothing for thermal purposes and carry a mobile phone to keep in contact in case help is required. It is best to stay well away from hazardous areas such as banks of streams, steep inclines and the quarries to reduce the risks.

Adequate Clothing

The key here is to wear a number of layers to give warmth and flexibility and having a waterproof layer is essential. As considerable heat loss occurs from the head, whole body protection is crucial.

Vehicle Use

For transport, Four Wheel Drive provides more grip than Two-wheel. Wear seat belts where provided.
Remember checking anti-freeze to prevent engine coolant freezing. Never take off the coolant pressure cap of an over-heating engine. The coolant is under a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure and it turns to steam which could cause burns to the face and upper body.

Batteries produce less power at lower temperature so ‘weak batteries’ get ‘found out’ in a cold snap. Particular care should be taken when ‘jump starting’. A weak battery could be frozen and could explode when jump started. If possible keep vehicle in a warm place but not adjacent to flammable material.

Electrical Usage

Additional lamps and extension cables are likely to be used during a ‘cold snap’. Check these for signs of ‘wear and tear’ and correct wiring before use. They should be protected by a 30milliamp RCD – Residual Current Device on the switch or fuse board to prevent electric shock.

Planning and Keeping in Contact

During the ‘cold snap’ its time for slowing down and taking deliberate actions. Getting through the cold period injury-free is the first priority.
Finally, but most importantly, it’s a time for keeping in contact with isolated neighbours particularly the elderly. It is great to see the active engagement of farming and rural organisations in this activity.

John McNamara
Teagasc, Health and Safety Officer