14 Winter Survival Tips from the Coldest Parts of the Country
How to brave (and enjoy!) the bitter cold at its worst—from those who know it best.
Start your day early
Bozeman, Montana resident Melissa Moran doesn’t let temperatures in the teens or dark skies deter her early morning workout. She goes to spin class at 5:30 a.m. three days per week in the winter, no matter how cold it is outside. “My mental clarity is simply better after an early morning workout. I don’t care how cold it is (outside),” she says. “I went to an afternoon class last week and it just wasn’t the same. When I work out in the morning, I’m more focused throughout the day—on what I eat, etc. It gets me on a routine and a schedule that I can follow.” All of this, she says, ultimately makes her a happier, better mom and wife—which, if nothing else, just might be the only motivation we all need to get ourselves out of bed on the darkest winter days. Here’s how to stay safe in the coldest of temps.
Replace your gloves with mittens
Switch to really nice thick mittens, advises Michigan resident Teca Shorter. Though you will give up dexterity, if your activity allows for it, “Mittens tend to be warmer than gloves because your fingers generate more heat when they’re not separated from each other by fabric, as they are with gloves,” according to REI.com. Here are more ways to keep your hands—and feet—as warm as possible this winter.
Add hand warmers for instant heat
Scott Seiberg, owner of veteran-owned junk removal service JDog Buffalo South in New York, says hand warmers are a staple in his truck during the winter months. “When your hands get cold, you lose the dexterity in your fingers. We lift heavy things all day long so we need to be able to use our hands,” he says. “They’re a great extra heat source to put inside your winter boots, too.” You can buy HotHands in bulk on Amazon.
Dress in layers
Seiberg says layers are key to staying comfortable in the winter despite major temperature shifts from indoor to outdoor environments. While Buffalo’s average low is about 20 degrees in January, Seiberg says his crew will often go from 10 to 70 degrees in a matter of minutes while on a residential job. “Once you start to sweat, you have to get your layers off quickly so your clothes don’t freeze,” he says. “I start out with long johns and pants. Then, I’ll throw on a t-shirt, sweatshirt and two hats. I’ll wear a knit hat with a baseball cap and switch them out during the day.” Here are more strategies to layering for warmth—and style—in winter.
Buy waterproof footwear
“I get a new pair of waterproof tennis shoes every two years,” Moran says. Seiberg agrees. “I always wear waterproof boots. You get your feet wet, you’re done.” Want to increase the longevity of your footwear? Follow these tips to keep your shoes in tip-top shape from day one.
Invest in a quality thermos
Research says we can actually be perceived as happier and more approachable when we hold hot beverages. And few things are as soothing as a hot cup of coffee or tea in the wintertime. If you bring your drink on the go, consider transferring it to a thermos for extended warmth. Charity Tapp, a barista at Java Moose Espresso Cafe in Grand Marais, Minnesota, says a quality thermos is the single best way to keep any drink hot for a long period of time. She recommends the Hydro Flask. Check out these mind-blowing facts about snow.
Eat your vitamin D
“We don’t see as much sun during the winter, so it’s important to take in more of those sunshine vitamins with what we eat,” Ashley Lariscy, director of nursing at BrightStar Care’s Novi division in Farmington Hills, Michigan, says. (According to AccuWeather, the Farmington Hills area sees average temperatures that fall between 15 and 20 degrees in January.) “Foods like tuna, salmon, and oranges are great, or even oatmeal with some sort of fresh, frozen fruit.”
If you’re expecting snow, park your car outwardly facing the street
Lori Nissen, Minneapolis, Minnesota resident and Lutsen, Minnesota cabin owner, says she always reminds her kids to park their cars outwardly facing the hill of their driveway, especially when they’re dealing with a steep or L-shaped driveway. According to Nissen, it’s easier to drive straight up the hill instead of reversing down it beforehand. “If it snows overnight and your car’s parked facing the street, it makes it a lot easier to make a run for it (the hill),” she says. Plus, with January temperatures in Lutsen that drop to -5, ice is another factor Nissen and her family can’t ignore. Follow this checklist to make sure your car is fully prepped to take on the iciest of winter roads.
Bake a cake or plant a garden
“The smell of baked goods brings everyone to a lovely place,” Lariscy says. “It’s important to find time for things that trigger soothing memories when it’s cold out. I’m also huge on plants in the home, especially during the winter. A windowsill with an indoor herb garden is a great way to brighten up anyone’s day.” Here’s how to bring the spirit of winter into your own home.
Pick up the phone
It’s easy (and only natural) for most of us to hibernate when it’s cold out. But don’t be a stranger. “We tend to spend more time indoors during the winter but it’s important to etch out some extra time for socializing,” Lariscy says. “People underestimate the power of a phone call.”