3 Tips For Selecting Cold Weather Safety Goggles

Winter Safety Goggles

Winter poses unique challenges when it comes to protective eyewear. Knowing what features to look for in a safety goggle will help you make the right choice.

For those of us in the Northern States, the falling temperatures and recent snow flurries are a good indication the first day of winter is just around the corner. These colder temperatures mean significant changes for those who have to work outdoors. While coats, hats, gloves, boots and insulating layers of clothing help block the wind and keep the body warm, we also need to pay special attention to our eyes.

Exposure to cold temperatures, wind and snow glare pose unique challenges to eye safety during the winter months. Injuries from these hazards can cause eye pain, blurred or decreased vision, light sensitivity and even vision loss! You can see why protecting your eyes in the winter is important. However, it’s easily overlooked, because we tend to worry about protecting other parts of our body from the cold first.

More Protection is Better
When it comes to protecting your eyes in the winter, it’s hard to beat a goggle. They provide outstanding protection from the wind and flying particles, and provide extra face coverage as well. However, make sure you select a goggle that is designed to be used in cold conditions. The average “lab goggle” will become rigid and uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods and prone to excessive lens fogging. Goggles designed for winter will have features similar to ski goggles, such as soft, dense foam around the face, dual-pane lenses and wide comfortable headbands. *Make sure you use a goggle that is ANSI Z87.1-2010 certified. Avoid the temptation to use ski or snowmobile goggles as they are NOT ANSI Z87 rated.

1. Fight Lens Fogging
Without a doubt the biggest problem faced by eye protection in cold weather is lens fogging. The temperature variance between a worker’s heated face and the cold outside air causes condensation to build up on the lens. Heavy exertion can exacerbate this, because the perspiration introduces additional moisture to the lens area. Fogged lenses cause worker frustration due to blurred vision and having to frequently remove their eyewear to clear the lenses. Even worse, some workers choose to not wear their protective eyewear to avoid fighting with lens fogging! This leaves them dangerously exposed to eye injuries.

Anti-fog coatings are your first line of defense, because they help reduce and delay the condensation that can build up on the interior of the lens. However, anti-fog coatings are not fool proof, and lenses will still need to be wiped down after time to remove excess moisture. When selecting safety eyewear with anti-fog coatings, look for advanced coatings that are permanently bonded to the lens. Bonded anti-fog coatings offer better performance and last longer between repeated cleanings and lens wiping. Anti-Fog Spray can also be used to improve anti-fog performance, especially on eyewear that doesn’t have a standard anti-fog coating.

Another important feature for winter safety goggles is the lens design. Dual-pane lenses are well suited for winter applications because they feature two lenses separated by an air chamber. The air between the two lens panes acts as an insulator, which helps reduce condensation. Just like other winter eyewear, dual-pane lenses should be treated with an anti-fog coating to maximize their anti-fog performance.

2. Go With The Flow
Airflow is another technique used to reduce lens fogging. Air vents integrated into the goggles body allow warm, moist air to escape, which helps reduce moisture build up on the lens. Direct venting offers the best performance, but it can’t be used in all situations.  In certain safety environments where liquid/chemical splash is a concern, direct venting is not recommended. In such a case, you’ll want to select a goggle with indirect (hooded) vents or no vents at all.

Good airflow is a key feature for keeping lens fogging under control. In fact, it’s how the best anti-fog goggles in world keep their lenses fog free.  If you’re working in extreme conditions that require the absolute maximum in anti-fog performance, then you should consider a goggle with a built-in vent fan. These types of goggles feature a variable speed electric fan that exhausts the hot, humid air from inside the goggle before it has a chance to condensate on the lens. Of course, these type of goggles don’t come cheap, costing north of $100, and are usually reserved for military and tactical applications where clear vision could mean the difference between life or death.

3. Don’t Look Into The Light!
Photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness, shouldn’t be taken for granted and happens more often than you think. If you’ve ever been outside on a sunny winter day with the sun reflecting off a fresh blanket of snow, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The intensity of the sun’s glare bouncing off the snow can be overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable. Plus your eyes are being exposed to high levels of UV light, which can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts and corneal sunburn!

Tinted polycarbonate (or similar material) lenses are the best way to combat this onslaught of sunlight and UV exposure. Common lens tints, such as gray, brown or mirrored, are suitable for most outdoor applications. For those who frequently transition from indoors to outdoors, you may want to consider an “indoor/outdoor” tint or even a photochromic lens. The selection of lens tints should be based on user preference, working conditions and company policy (some companies may not allow the use of mirrored lenses).

Another way to reduce glare is through the use of Polarized lenses, which use a special filtering film sandwiched into the lens. This film has fine, horizontal lines, which help block the glare shining off of reflective surfaces, such as snow, water and ice. Benefits include less eye strain and improved visual clarity.

Keep Calm and Wear Your Eye Protection
With all of winter’s discomforts, unique challenges and hazards, it’s easy to forget about or even ignore eye protection. Following the suggestions above will help keep your eyes safe during the cold winter months ahead.

List of recommended anti-fog goggles for winter:

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions about winter eye protection? Please post them in the comments section below.

5 Tips To Help Keep The Holidays The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From decorating for the holidays and visiting family to preparing feasts and enjoying activities in the snow, this time of year provides seemingly unending choices for fun, family and fellowship. Unfortunately, the busyness and merriment of this time of year also means the potential for snowmanincreased injury from a variety of sources.

Let’s take a look at 5 main areas injuries often take place during the holidays as well as tips for keeping the season safe and joy-filled.

  1. Toys

Safety in play during the holidays begins with making sure toys are appropriate for a child’s age and ability as well as providing appropriate supervision. Start by checking age ranges on toys before purchasing. With younger kids, also be aware of the packaging for toys, making sure potential eye hazards are removed. Special care also needs taken with flying and projectile toys, including chemistry sets, airsoft and BB guns and rockets. Supervise older kids using projectile toys, and make sure they follow directions and wear goggles when operating these toys. Also remember to keep younger children and other spectators at a safe distance.

For more information on keeping kids safe during sports and play, check out these helpful articles: Airsoft Safety, Part 1 and Part 2 and The Top 5 Most Unlikely Holiday Safety Risks.

  1. Decorations

Most homes are filled with festive decorations this time of year. Be sure to check that breakable ornaments are out of the reach of young children and make sure branches on Christmas trees aren’t sticking out at a child’s eye-level. Other decorations posing potential injury threat include fireplaces, candles and electrical cords. Use common sense with each of these, making sure they won’t cause someone to trip and that they are safely avoidable. Another potential hazardous decoration is spray snow because the chemicals can easily harm eyes. Use caution when applying making sure to wear safety goggles when doing so.

  1. Food

For some, holiday food is the best part of the holiday season. And other than the extra calories, many don’t consider the potential safety hazard accompanying all that extra food. To begin, be aware of the safe handling and cooking processes needed for the food you’re preparing. From food allergies to food poisoning, being aware of the potential health hazards can help make sure everyone enjoys the festivities. Food safety also involves making sure an active kitchen is always supervised and that smoke alarms are in working order. Finally, keep children away from hot surfaces, and encourage everyone to wash hands frequently.

  1. Snow

If you live in or are traveling to an area with the potential for a white Christmas, you’re probably looking forward to sledding and snowball fights and possibly snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding. If your holiday plans include these or other outdoor snow-related activities, make sure everyone’s gear includes sunglasses or goggles to protect eyes both from impact and from the sun. Also, keep in mind that the possibility for sunburn still exists in cold weather, and that its potential significantly increases with altitude. In addition to protecting eyes, protect the rest of your body by staying dry and dressing warmly with layers.

Check out these great articles related to safety in the snow: Links to articles on Cold Weather Safety, Great Goggles Make Snowmobiling Even More Enjoyable, and An Expert’s Guide to Skiing Sunglasses Lens Tints.

  1. Travel

Most people travel at least some over the holidays with many traveling significant distances. Keep in mind that weather makes road conditions vary significantly from one location to the next as well as at different times of day. Plus, there are the vision challenges often accompanying long drives. Vision can become blurry from fatigue, sunlight reflecting off snow makes seeing anything difficult, and just general fatigue can wreak havoc on anyone’s alertness. Tips for safe holiday travel include wearing the proper eyewear for the time of day, including always sunglasses during the day. Other options for reducing the chance of accidents caused by fatigue include resting frequently, keeping the car cool and sharing the driving. And tips on travel safety during the holidays would be incomplete without encouraging that a designated driver be chosen prior to indulging in any holiday drinking.

For more on the challenges of night driving, check out Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1 and Part 2.

Following the simple tips above can help ensure this holiday season stays the most wonderful time of year.

5 Reasons to Wear Protective Eyewear Around RC Aircraft

While the dangers of commercial helicopters are probably obvious with the possibility of debris getting into eyes, not to mention the dangerous blades whirling above the machine, the dangers of recreational or remote control helicopters may not seem as apparent. Even though remote control helicopters are not as dangerous Quadcopteras “real” helicopters, they still call for employing safety procedures and donning safety gear. Unfortunately, some simply view them as toys and fail to do what’s necessary to keep both operators and onlookers safe.

While no one wants to eliminate the fun, we must admit that mom was right when she said, “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.” And there are a lot of ways to get injured by remote control helicopters.

Before reviewing those ways, let’s first understand some of the “forces and velocities involved in a 30-size helicopter with average wood blades at 1800 rpm” as provided by Heliguy. First, each spindle, blade holder and nylon nut screwed to the helicopter must hold 270 pounds (122Kg) to keep the blades from flying away. And second, the tip speed of each blade is about 250 MPH or 413 KPH.

The force that the blades have is like having someone who can throw at about 50mph (81 kph) hit something with the tip of an 8 ft. (2.5m) ruler as hard as possible. If that something is a person, they would be in pain. The point being that the force of these blades, while not likely causing death, can do some serious damage. Heliguy also says to “remember, these statistics are for 30-sized helicopter blades. 60-sized helicopters are much more powerful, and their blades are considerably longer and heavier.”

While the strength of impact varies from one machine to the next, these numbers at least indicate a need to be cautious when operating and simply when near remote control helicopters.

Looking at this in a practical sense, what specific sorts of dangers can these types of forces present?

  1. Rotor wash: Air turbulence caused by a helicopter’s rotor can send flying debris into the air and likely into the eyes of the operator or nearby spectators. That is, unless eyes are properly protected.
  2. Inexperience: Quadcopters are very easy to fly for novice fliers, and most Quadcopters can hover automatically. Unfortunately, inexperience often leads to mistakes which lead to injuries. Making sure an operator isn’t flying a machine he isn’t ready for increases safety for both the operator and spectators.
  3. Location: Quadcopters tend to be closer to the operator than traditional RC aircraft, so the chance of being hit is increased. Also, some aircraft are made for indoor operation, which increases the chance of injuries like corneal abrasions (scratches to the surface of the eye).
  4. Adverse conditions: Outdoor weather conditions and malfunctions often lead to errors and accidents, especially when not taken into consideration prior to takeoff.
  5. Maintenance: Every landing, general use and even minor crashes put stress on aircraft that can lead to breakdown. While having a maintenance program makes logical sense and many pilots implement them consistently, they can get neglected as adrenaline from the excitement of the sport flows.

In addition to common sense, taking time to learn how to operate the aircraft, and making sure aircraft is properly maintained, wearing protective eyewear helps ensure that the most likely injuries don’t happen.

What’s the best option that doesn’t compromise style or comfort and take away from the enjoyment of the sport? And what options work best for indoor operation?

Goggles provide whole-eye protection by eliminating any space through which debris can make its way to eyes. Perhaps goggles aren’t your thing as you’d like to wear something a bit more fashionable. Then safety glasses with good wrap-around protection provide a solid alternative. Some are even available with a foam-lined lens, which provides protection from flying debris, similar to a traditional goggle. There are a lot of lens options as well that make wearing protective eyewear just as functional indoors as outdoors.

Taking time to plan for safety can keep the sport of flying remote control helicopters – and most other sports for that matter – safe and fun.