Workers brave frigid temps when laboring outside

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KANSAS CITY — Coping with the cold hasn’t been easy Monday for those outside in sub-zero wind chills. Those braving the elements say they just can’t be as productive when the mercury is near zero.

There aren’t many people working outside in dangerously cold conditions. An emergency call required an immediate response by a city water services crew in the Coleman Highlands neighborhood. These workers are always outside on 12-hour shifts in all kinds of weather extremes.

Two lonely construction workers were outside Monday morning at the site of a new apartment complex delivering a load of drywall. There wasn’t much activity where new buildings are going up on a day like this one.

Many of those outside working are doing snow removal or trying to clear walks and driveways of ice.

Workers say wearing layers of clothing help them face below zero winds. And they are more likely to take frequent breaks to warm up inside, somewhere nearby.

“It’s more than four layers, sometimes five. It just depends,” said Mike Palmquist, who delivers restaurant supplies. “If you have good quality fabric you can stay out here for a long time.”

Palmquist says he’ll stay outside for about 30 to 45 minutes at a time, before warming up for a while on a break. Even with multiple layers, fingers and toes start feeling the cold after that length of time when you have single digit temperatures and brutal wind chills.

City workers say unclogging a sewer line is better than repairing a broken water line, even if it takes them all day.

Cold water and wind chills below zero make working in the wet and cold a task that no one really wants to face.

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