When the temperature hits zero, electricians tag-team with co-workers to keep their hands warm enough to do their job.
Bargersville father-son duo Randy and Kevin Whitaker own Whitaker Electric, and this week their job takes twice as long as it normally does. As electricians, their job requires small, minute movements with their hands, meaning no gloves can be worn while working, Randy Whitaker said. Wire gets stiff and tends to snap in colder temperatures, he said.
Crews will head out into harsh conditions today, but work still needs to be done around the county. Construction workers, firefighters and electricians keep working, regardless of the weather.
“It makes things harder to do, absolutely, but you can’t wait until spring,” Randy Whitaker said. For subzero temperatures, Whitaker Electric employees relieve each other every two to three minutes, so they can warm up their hands and finish the job, regardless of the weather conditions.
For construction workers, productivity slows immensely due to the ground freezing every night, stopping any trench digging or cement-pouring work that needs to be done during the day, said Jesse Smith, vice president of CASE Construction in Edinburgh. He used to work outside before shifting to an inside job.
“What I didn’t like most is it seemed somewhat depressing because you weren’t nearly as productive,” Smith said. “It took a lot more effort to do the same thing.”
When temperatures dip below 20 degrees, CASE Construction cancels work for the day, Smith said. Some of the machines, like trench-diggers or bulldozers, have trouble starting, and the ground freezes too much to dig or pour cement.
“When it’s summertime, what you see in a day’s time is half in the winter,” Smith said.
Despite a temperature of zero today, Bill Miller of Bill Miller Heating and Cooling plans to work as normal. Excessive snow is what can stop him, he said.
“If it’s really, really cold and your hands get wet, that pretty much puts you out of business,” Bill Miller said. “It’s a lot more uncomfortable, that’s for sure.”
Firefighters at White River Township Fire Department also know the struggle of keeping warm in the bitter cold. When firefighters spend hours putting out a fire in subzero temperatures, firefighters need to be as efficient as possible because some of their skin is unprotected.
“No matter how hard you try, you’re going to have your face and parts of your body exposed to the cold,” said Jeremy Pell, the White River Township fire chief. There are traditionally at least two ambulances on the scene of a fire, and they give firefighters a place to warm up during the job when they’re called out in freezing temperatures, Pell said.