Iowans, Outside Workers, Preparing for Dangerously Low Temperatures

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Those cold temperatures are causing many people to rush to stores to make sure their cars are prepped, their fridges are stocked, and their bodies are bundled up.

“You know the minus 40, 50, 60 [degrees], you don’t see that very often and obviously you don’t want to be outside any longer than you have to,” Frank Marcovis, G&L Clothing co-owner said. In his 19 years running G&L Clothing, he says he’s never seen a wind chill quite this bad.

With the national weather service saying this cold air has the potential to be life threatening, it’s important to dress smart.

“A lot of people do ask ‘what’s the warmest pair of pants,’ ‘what’s the warmest bib overall,’ ‘what’s the warmest,’ and that’s kind of a relative term too,” Marcovis said.

G&L Clothing says the best thing you can do is dress in layers, but the key is to make sure that base layer is the right fabric, like merino wool.

“[Do] not wear cotton as your base layer because cotton, if you do sweat into it, it will get cold,” Marcovis said. “If you wear wool, a great natural fiber, or a synthetic fiber, they will whip the moisture away from your body and if you’re dryer you’re warmer.”

Wool socks are also best, especially under waterproof boots.

“You don’t have to wear three pairs of socks. If you get the right pair of socks you should be able to wear one pair of socks with a waterproof boot and stay warm,” Marcovis said.

G&L Clothing says they were busy right away at 8 a.m. this morning with essentials like gloves and boots being the first to go.

“We’ve also been selling a lot of hand warmers and toe warmers,” Marcovis said. He added they are also selling a lot of workwear overalls and coats to those who are going to be working outside this week.

“That negative 20 degrees is going to bite real hard,” tow truck driver Alex Nelson said.

Nelson works at Hanifen Towing in Des Moines and is one of the workers who has to brace the cold.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, there is a tow ban in six counties in Iowa, including Polk County, but he is still out in Des Moines picking up salvage vehicles and preparing for a busy few hours once that tow ban is lifted.

“When I was first hired, it was 8 [a.m.] to 5 [p.m.] or until the job is done, and that’s kind of what it is like when the tow ban is lifted, until the job is done. As long as people keep calling us to pick up cars, we keep picking them up,” Nelson said.

He says things can get tricky out on the roads because the cold makes their hydraulics on the trucks move slower. That means they’re out in the cold longer, towing multiple cars out of ditches along the interstate.

“When the tow ban is lifted it seems there are a lot more cars out on the roadway and people want to get their cars out and they want to get it out right now,” Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig said.

Nelson added it’s important to slow down and give tow truck drivers room on the roads, especially in these conditions.


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