Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, January 10, 2011

Staying Warm in the Cold

I had a task I needed to do out in the garage that would take me a couple of hours to accomplish.  Here in Northeast Ohio in January, that means being out in the cold- I think it was a high in the low 20's (F) today.  That got me thinking about how to stay warm in the cold.  I tend to be cold when other people aren't, so I have a good supply of long johns, etc.  Before going out to the garage, I put on an extra pair of socks, long john pants under my regular pants, an extra sweatshirt, and earmuffs.  I came in every half hour or so, and had an insulated mug of hot tea to sip on.
In general, the best way to dress for staying warm is in layers, so if you get too warm you can take off a layer, and put it back on when you get cold again.  The layer closest to the skin should be something that wicks the moisture of sweat away from the skin, and dries quickly.  Being wet and cold can lead to hypothermia, and possibly frostbite.   Silk is good, as are a number of synthetic materials.  Cotton used to be the preferred fabric for next to the skin, but cottton absorbs and holds the moisture, keeping it in.  My personal favorite is Cuddl Duds, which are smooth and silky feeling, and thin enough to wear under other clothes without adding bulk. I have both the long sleeve shirts and the pants. I also have socks that I wear under my regular socks in winter, called Gobi Liner from Wigwam, that are thin, wick away moisture, and help my feet stay warm.  I even bought a couple of pairs for my older son, who lives in Boston, rides his bicycle everywhere, and whose idea of fun is a 100 mile bike ride.
On top of that layer, I often wear a turtle neck long sleeve shirt, which keeps cold air from blowing down my neck.  I am glad I am not very fashion conscious, because most shirts these days expose too much skin for my comfort. 
The next layer should be something that traps and holds body heat in, such as fleece or wool.  Some people wear a down or fleece vest, which keeps the body's core warm, but I have found that I need long sleeves.  If my arms are cold, all of me feels cold.  When I am indoors, this is my outermost layer.  If I am going out, I add another layer that will insulate and keep the body heat in, and rain/snow/wind, etc. out.  Depending on the weather and how active I will be, this ranges from a windbreaker to a down jacket.  If my ears get cold, they hurt terribly.  I like to wear earmuffs, or a more recent find for me are those fleece headbands.  I wear them when I am outside even if it is 55 degrees.  Each coat or jacket I own has a fleece headband in one pocket and a pair of gloves in the other pocket.  Mittens are actually warmer than gloves, because the fingers help keep each other warm.  I have mittens available for the coldest days, but it is easier to do things in gloves.  
When I am sitting inside our apartment, I often feel cold.  I have a nice, snuggly fleece blanket I like to drape over me.  When we first get to our cabin in the winter, it is often around 40 degrees inside.  Once we get everything brought in and the food put away, I wrap my electric blanket around myself and read until the place warms up.  My cat likes both the fleece and the electric blanket, and often stretches out on my lap, adding extra warmth for me. 
As you can see, keeping warm is very important to me.  When I am cold, my muscles tense up, which increases my pain level.  Keeping muscles warm helps them to relax, and decreases pain. 

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