Regardless of your mission, conducting operations in a cold environment presents unique and significant challenges. You are charged with mitigating risks to personnel safety, preparing your equipment for sustained operations in a harsh environment, and planning ahead to ensure you have the right equipment on hand to support your mission. Here are Western Shelter's six tips to help you prepare for, equip for, and operate safely in, cold weather.
1. Establish a warming shelter
Ensuring you have a shelter designated as a warming station is a great risk mitigation factor. This shelter should be the first established upon arrival at site, even if it is temporary and will be moved once the rest of your shelters are established.
2. Be mindful of air quality
Another critical safety consideration is the air quality in your shelters. Be careful to place generators, heaters and other exhaust-producing systems as far away from your shelters as possible. Consider wind direction and airflow as well as shelter entry/exit points. Test and utilize carbon monoxide detectors like the one in the “Shelter Safety Kit” in every shelter, and train personnel what to do in the event a carbon monoxide alarm is tripped. Allow for proper venting of your Western Shelters by ensuring the shelter vent caps are unobstructed and allow air to flow freely. These few, simple steps will help mitigate some of the most significant threats posed to your personnel while operating in cold weather.
3. Maintain your equipment
Preparing for operations in a cold environment will help ease your set-up and keep your systems operating at peak performance. First and foremost, conduct regular maintenance checks on your equipment. Fuel stabilizer will help protect your generators and heaters between cycles of use.
4. Limit vinyl constriction
Vinyl will constricts as temperatures drop. Remember the warming shelter we discussed above? Place your wall panel sets and roof panels in the warming shelter to help the vinyl loosen up and become more pliable.
5. Minimize snow loads
It is also important to keep snow and ice from collecting on the roof of your shelter; keeping heat to the shelter will help, but, in case of accumulation, use a broom to carefully pull snow off the roof.
6. Know your equipment
Some of your gear will require special considerations or accessories for cold weather operations. For example: your Western Shelter XE1200 HVAC comes equipped with 2-stage heating, but you need to have the required 50A power cable and an appropriately-sized generator to utilize the auxiliary heating coils.
Cold Weather Equipment
Another critical factor to your success while operating in a cold environment is having the right equipment on hand. Western Shelter Systems offers several accessories designed to assist in your success: