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Come in, it's c-c-cold

Meat-stores' staff all bundled up, even in heat wave

Even though it's scorching hot outside, Claudine Kasprick is bundling up in her parka and snow pants to go to work.

That's because Kasprick works at Gimli Fish Market in Winnipeg, where she organizes boxes and puts fish in a -18 C freezer.

Claudine Kasprick piles on the clothes for work in the Gimli Fish Market freezer.


Claudine Kasprick piles on the clothes for work in the Gimli Fish Market freezer. Purchase Photo Print

"If you're in there for longer than five minutes, you'll freeze," said Kasprick, the warehouse manager. "I've got my winter boots and ski pants, so I dress really warm."

Gimli Fish Market sells fish from all over Canada. As a result, temperatures inside the store are kept cool, ranging from 18 C to 20 C. The fish market runs its air conditioning from April until November.

"In the summertime, even though it's 30 above outside, we're wearing coveralls, insulated boots and wool socks," said Karen Olson, the store's owner.

"When we're working in the freezer, it's pretty cold. It's like being outside in the winter, except there's no wind chill," Olson said. "Our customers love it when they come into the store because it's so cold."

On Wednesday, the temperature hit 32 C in Winnipeg, but it felt like 35 C with the humidity. That wasn't quite a July 3 record for Winnipeg, which is 32.8 C, set in 1886.

"Workers need to take precautions in these hot conditions. They need a safety plan that deals with heat," said Warren Preece, director of communications at the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba.

But workers such as Mark Dueck aren't too concerned about heat precautions.

"I always wear two layers of clothing and a jacket to work," said Dueck, owner of Denny's Meat Market in Winnipeg. "In the wintertime, it's cold outside and it's cold inside, so you can't get rid of the chill."

Denny's Meat Market has to keep store temperatures between 16 C and 17 C in order to keep meat fresh and machines running properly. Whether it's summer or winter, the freezers inside the market have to be at -20 C for frozen products.

"But I wouldn't want to be working outside in the summer," Dueck said.

Employees at VersaCold in Winnipeg also dress in layers during the hot summer months.

"Workers wear parkas, it's so cold in there," said Gary Goodman, vice-president of Colliers International, which owns VersaCold. "But they're not complaining."

VersaCold stores and ships frozen food to customers across the country.

"It's five floors and over 200,000 square feet of freezer," he said.

What have you done to stay cool in this heat wave? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2013 A5


Updated on Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 6:26 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds question for discussion

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