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Working in the Cold

Before signing on with The Family Handyman, most of the editors here were employed in the building trades. And all of us have worked in Minnesota, where it can get nippy outdoors come winter. Travis Larson even worked in Greenland, where temps plummeted to 40 degrees below zero. We got together (inside) and pooled our favorite tips for staying comfortable and safe while working in the cold.

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Prevent ladder disastersFamily Handyman

Prevent ladder disasters

When your feet slip out from under you, you’ll probably bruise your bum and look around hoping nobody saw you. When the feet of a ladder slip out, you’re going to hurt more than your pride. Keep ladders upright on icy ground by digging holes for the feet and flipping the feet back so the spurs poke into the ground. See more on ladder safety.
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Neck gaiters are a mustFamily Handyman

Neck gaiters are a must

There’s no better accessory to keep your neck warm than a neck gaiter. Buy one long enough that you can pull it all the way up to your eyeballs for those particularly windy or brutally cold days. Forget or lose your gaiter? Many convenience store/gas stations sell cheap stocking caps. Cut a hole in the top and you’ve got yourself a neck gaiter.
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Support sawhorse legsFamily Handyman

Support sawhorse legs

It’s true that frozen ground makes a nice, stable surface for sawhorses. But sawhorse legs can sink into the thawed ground when the temps rise, which will make them unstable. Also, if the legs do sink and the ground refreezes, you’re going to need a jackhammer to free them. Place chunks of wood under the legs to keep them on terra firma. See how to build small sawhorses.
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Don’t lose your toolsFamily Handyman

Don’t lose your tools

It’s not a big deal when a tool falls out of your pouch—unless you don’t know it fell out—and it’s snowing. Give yourself a fighting chance to find misplaced hand tools by marking them with a bright-colored spray paint. This is also a good way to identify your tools so they don’t wander off with other workers. Check out these Tool hints, tips and tricks.