Cold Calls: Choosing the right apparel for outside work in winter


By Dan Mendelson

Record snowfalls have brought the topic of keeping warm to the forefront of plenty of security departments. While there are many considerations for a security director when thinking about the safety and health of their team members, a major concern at this time of year is sending employees out in the cold.

Keeping a guard healthy not only reduces time off for sick days, but helps keep them more alert and responsive to all situations. Having helped many large and small security forces over the years with apparel decisions we can offer these high level “must have” considerations.

Layers are your best defense. Keep it simple and think in terms of three layers; base layer, insulating layer and an outerwear layer. Your purchased uniform program may not include all these elements by default, but advising your guards to include three layers in their outfits will help protect them.

For the insulating and outerwear layers a popular solution is jackets with an insulated zip in and out layer. This style allows for the item to be easily used in multiple seasons. The insulation layer can also include wool or fleece elements if that is an option for your organization. The outer most layer is your last line of defense, which makes wind protection another important element to include at this level. If there is a weather factor in your area, make sure your outerwear garments feature shells that protect from wind chill.

The base layer (and perhaps other layers) should feature wicking abilities. When you are wet, you are more likely to be cold. Wicking technology removes the moisture from the skin and helps it to evaporate away from the body. A cotton shirt as a base layer, without wicking, is the opposite of what your team should wear. Look for durable knit, wool and polyester garments. Wicking is also a factor for consideration in shirts and even outerwear layers, but is a must have as a base.

Conventional wisdom also applies here as far as what body parts to cover up. Your employee’s core is covered in layers, which is great, but how long should the outerwear be? We advise you to make sure the length of the outerwear covers at least past the kidneys, which insures better circulation. Covering up the head is another important part of dressing for warmth. A knit cap with Thinsulate woven in goes a long way to retaining heat.

The winter also brings shorter days. Besides the cold, less daylight hours means your team should be wearing reflective elements on one or more of these layers. Adding a certain amount of reflective tape to shirts, jackets or headwear is a must for your uniform specifications. An easily identifiable employee is a safer worker.

Protecting your security team from the elements is a year round endeavor, but facing the cold can be especially stressful for employees. Taking our recommendations into consideration when recommending what to wear, or supplying items to team members, will insure a safer and warmer worker.