It’s cold out there, and if you’re a cop on the beat this winter, you’ll definitely feel it. While winter weather may be uncomfortable, exposure to the cold can be deadly, and frostbite can be permanently disabling.
Take steps to make sure you’re safe and comfortable this winter with a cold weather survival kit for your patrol vehicle. Most of these items you can find inexpensively locally or online, or you may already have them on hand. So the next time the temperature dips, and you’re driving around this winter, you’ll be ready.
1. Thin wool or fleece gloves – Use these as your backup pair in case you need them, or as additional insulation under your heavy gloves. Inexpensive military surplus glove liners work well because they don’t take up much space. The wool keeps you warm even if it gets wet.
2. Hand warmers – These warmers are oxygen-activated. You can get ones that last for 12 hours, which will cover your shift. You can place them in gloves, boots, hats, vests, or pockets for an extra boost of warmth when you’re patrolling, directing traffic, or standing around in the cold.
3. Snowmobile balaclava – This windproof headwear is thin and stretchable, so it easily fits under hats and works well with uniforms. It’s made to wear under a snowmobile helmet, and it effectively shields your head, face, and neck.
4. Plastic trash bag – Trash bags have great insulating properties, which makes them ideal for covering up a tear in a uniform. They also are effective barriers from wet, icy or snowy surfaces if you might have to sit down on one.
5. Glow stick necklaces – Snap these necklaces and they give off a glow that can be seen at night. If you’re ever about to fall unconscious, wrap one around your arm or attach one to your neck. You can also use them in a pinch if the battery in your flashlight dies. These sticks will glow for 8 to 12 hours.
6. Packets of instant coffee, hot cocoa, tea bags – Pack your hot beverage of choice for a quick pick me up. Just add hot water, available at most convenience stores. A hot beverage can help you maintain body temperature on frigid nights and keep you hydrated.
7. A large zipper food bag or vacuum pack bag – Store your kit in a waterproof bag that’s easy to carry. A large zipper food bag is light and foldable. You also could pack everything in a vacuum-sealed food bag. Whatever you use, make sure your cold weather survival kit is with you wherever you go this winter.
More cold weather tips
Working in the cold is an added stress for law enforcement. Make sure you are fully prepared.
- Police uniforms are not necessarily made for warmth, and you may not even be issued a winter version. Make sure you’re protected with good outerwear and base layers, especially if you’re working in conditions under 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Insulated underwear comes in different weights. Choose the weight you need based on the weather. Remember that a good base layer is odor resistant, quick to dry, and soft on the skin.
- Insulated duty boots protect your feet and keep them warm during the toughest conditions.
- Warm socks made for the weather will help. Wool retains heat even if wet and lets your feet” breathe.”
- Insulated hats prevent heat loss through your head.
- Warm gloves protect your hands but can affect your fingers’ ability to move. Make sure you practice with your gloves on as you deploy your baton, TASER, OC, handcuffs, magazines and pistol.
- Equipment can freeze and malfunction due to the cold. Keep a small black sack with hand warmers and put your radio in it to keep the battery from freezing. Wrap your flashlight with hockey friction tape so the cold metal won’t stick to your skin if you touch it with bare hands. Put a coat of silicone inside your holster to more easily draw your weapon, and do a half-draw if you’re out in the cold for a period of time.
- You depend on your cars to keep you warm. Snap-on grille covers help keep the cold air outside from coming in.
Stay safe out there.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.