The winter season brings more than just holidays and family gatherings. It also brings harsh weather conditions that can cause serious physical injury or lasting skin damage. If you find yourself spending long periods of time outside, use these five ways to protect yourself from extreme cold.
1. Dress In Layers
While cold temperatures are uncomfortable and can put a chill on your skin, it's the wind chill factor that will cut you to your bones. If you live in an area where the cold temperatures are accompanied by strong, blistering winds, dressing in layers is vital to staying warm and preventing hypothermia. Dressing in layers, while sounding fairly rudimentary, can actually require some forethought and careful planning to ensure that all of the clothes fit and allow you optimal range of motion.
To begin dressing in layers, you must first pick out a set of thin clothes constructed using light, warm fabric. Fleece fabric is very popular and effective as an insulator because it protects like wool but weighs half as much. This layered clothing should consist of an extra pair of socks, an extra pair of pants, and an extra shirt.
2. Invest In Proper Footwear
If your plans require you to remain outside longer than a few minutes, it is imperative that you invest in a proper set of insulated snow boots. It is important that you make the distinction between snow boots and winter boots. Winter boots provide insulation against cold, dry weather but fail to give much protection against cold, wet conditions. Additionally, snow boots are specially designed to provide optimal traction in slippery conditions and also provide ankle support should you stumble on a patch of ice. When you begin to purchase items for your winter weather gear, be sure to place a good set of snow boots at the top of your shopping list.
3. Pick A Winter Coat
Your winter coat will be the first line of your defense against the harsh elements of winter. You need to make sure that your winter coat is not only waterproof and insulated but that it also fits properly. While this may sound like a simple aesthetics issue at first, a loose-fitting coat can leave openings in your outer defense and allow cold air to steal away the body heat from your core. This can lead to a significant drop in your body temperature over time and make you more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Choose a winter coat that fits and that has elastic bands around the wrists to form an airtight barrier that will help to retain your body heat and block intruding winds.
4. Protect Your Extremities
When you spend a prolonged amount of time outside in cold weather, your chances of developing a skin and soft tissue injury called frostbite increases in proportion to your exposure time. The areas of your body most susceptible to frostbite include your cheeks, fingers, forehead, toes, and nose. These body parts have one thing in common - they aren't protected by your regular winter gear. This is why it is important to bring a thick pair of gloves and hat that will cover all of the important parts of your face. Many people feel that beanie hats provide the best flexibility and protection during winter weather.
5. Other Provisions
When venturing out into the cold, always bring a tube of extra strength winter lip balm. Your lips will become chapped and crack easily without a generous coating of lip balm. Also, bring a travel size container of hand lotion. The cold weather can dry out your hands quickly, causing lasting damage to your skin. Keeping your hands moisturized and protected will help to prevent skin damage.
An additional winter item is a scarf. A scarf will help to keep your chin, cheeks, and nose warm while preventing too much cold air from getting into your lungs. Inhaling cold air can cause serious health issues, especially in people with preexisting conditions such as COPD and asthma.