Let’s be honest: Winter weather can be a burden. As much as we all love the sight of fresh snow on a sunny winter day, that joy starts to dissipate by day three when all the powdery snow has been pulverized into sloppy grey slush. By the time your favorite pair of long johns fail to shield you from the frigid temps, your love affair with winter has probably ended. It’s understandable. Staying safe in cold weather can be harder than you realize. That’s why we’ve rounded up a handful of tips to help you stay safe and warm this winter, whether you’re cozied up indoors or venturing outside.
Staying Safe in Cold Weather
Dressing in layers isn’t just about putting on as many bulky sweaters and undershirts as you possibly can. It’s about protecting yourself from the elements. If you aren’t sure where to start, listen to the advice of outdoor gear company REI. When cold weather strikes, REI’s go-to outfit is as follows: mid-weight polyester long underwear top and bottom, a jacket with synthetic insulation, mid-weight fleece pants, waterproof/breathable rain jacket, and pants. Their strategy is simple. Staying safe in cold weather starts with your base layer. This should be a wicking material like polyester that keeps sweat off your skin. The next layer, the middle layer, should help your body retain its heat. The outer layer should be something that will protect you from the wind or rain.
Protect Yourself from Rain and Snow
Even if it’s not raining or snowing, it’s wise to bring along a rain jacket or a pair of waterproof snow or rain boots. You never know when you’ll need them. Even if you’re not planning on venturing out into the snow, you never know when a puddle or some flurries will surprise you. And if you do get wet, it’s important to change out of any damp clothes as soon as possible.
A big part of staying safe in cold weather starts with being prepared. If your area gets heavy snowfall a few times each winter, keep your pantry stocked with staples including canned beans, frozen vegetables, fruit, breads, and nuts. Having food on hand can help if snow piles up and blocks easy access to the nearest grocery store. Speaking of poor driving conditions, winter weather can quickly turn even a daily commute into a treacherous ordeal. For that reason, keep a shovel, extra gloves, water, a flashlight, and some snacks in your car in case you get stranded due to bad weather.
Keep Your Toes and Fingers Warm
Did you know that your fingers and toes are the first to suffer when temperatures drop? This is especially problematic when you consider that hypothermia starts in your extremities. Symptoms of hypothermia can take a while to develop; as a result, people often don’t even realize their body temperature has dropped to dangerously low levels. So if you’re concerned about staying safe in cold weather, remember to bundle up your feet and hands in warm socks and shoes and mittens or gloves.
When cold weather hits, do you immediately haul your space heater out of the closet? These handy heat sources can be a real comfort when temperatures dip, but they can also be a fire hazard if you’re not careful. A good rule of thumb is to keep a space heater three feet from anything flammable. That includes rugs, curtains, and other fabrics that could easily catch fire. It’s also a good idea to use a space heater that comes with a timer. If your space heater doesn’t have this handy feature, set a timer on your oven or phone. The last thing you want to do is fall asleep with your space heater running on full blast. If you’re in the market for a new space heater, Forbes Magazine has a helpful roundup of the latest and greatest portable space heaters.
Staying safe in cold weather is all about being prepared. That means dressing for the weather, keeping your car and kitchen stocked with essentials, and knowing how to read your body’s signs that it needs to warm up. Don’t find yourself ill prepared when winter weather calls.
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