5 Toasty Tips for Staying Warm in Winter Weather

Bitter cold temperatures. Icy winds. Blowing snow. Winter has many ways of exposing you to the cold. But just because the winter weather is cold, doesn't mean you have to be. When the mercury drops, try these tips — they'll keep you toasty and warm until you can make it back indoors, fireside. 

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Dress in (Up to 3) Layers

enjoying winter
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Layering insulates the body by creating pockets of warm air around it, which ensures that it keeps a core temperature of 98.6 °F. According to proper layering etiquette, you should dress in as many as three layers depending on how cold it is and what you'll be doing outside: a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer layer. 

The base layer of clothing is the one that's worn next to your skin. It includes form-fitting clothing (like thermal underwear) that provides warmth and keeps you dry. Clothing made of synthetic materials that move moisture away from skin are best. Avoid wearing cotton when possible, since it absorbs moisture and can trap wetness against your skin, making you colder.

The middle layer of clothing is meant to insulate the body by keeping heat in and cold out. Wool, fleece, and polyester sweaters, sweatshirts, pullovers, and long-sleeved tops do this job well.

The outer, or shell, layer of clothing includes pants and a jacket or coat. Ideally, this layer should be waterproof, yet breathable.

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Keep Dry

Man with yellow umbrella walking in snow
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No matter how many layers of clothing you wear, they won't do you a bit of good unless they remain dry. An umbrella, weather-proof coat, and snow boots can help with this. (Once clothing gets wet, the moisture evaporates from its surface, causing it to cool and you to feel much colder.) 

Not only can rain, freezing rain, or snow dampen clothing, but sweating can too. If you find you've layered so well that it's causing you to overheat, you'll want to remove that thermal top or layering tee.  

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Wear a Hat, Mittens, Sunglasses

Happy faces everybody
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It's said that as much as 70% of the body's heat is lost through the head. Whether or not you believe this cold weather lore, one thing is certain — wearing a hat will help keep you warmer, if for no other reason than you'll have less skin exposed to the elements. 

As for the body's extremities (fingers, toes, and feet), take extra care to keep them warm. They're among the first to experience the effects of frostbite. When it comes to the question of gloves vs. mittens, go with the latter. True, mittens are bulkier, but they keep hands warmer by clustering the fingers together.

And don't forget your eyes! While they aren't necessarily in danger of getting cold, having snow on the ground (if there is any) can actually make the sun's UV rays stronger — so throw on some shades!

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Keep Hydrated

Water being poured into glass, snow-covered mountains in b/ground
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While you wouldn't think it, dehydration is a real concern during cold weather. Not only does cold air strip our bodies of moisture because it is drier, but winter winds carry moisture away from the skin's surface through the process of evaporation. What's more, people don't naturally feel as thirsty in winter as they do when the weather is hot. 

Drink plenty of water and hot drinks (which offer both hydration and warmth), even if you don't feel thirsty. This will help you stay well hydrated, which makes it easier for you to stay warm. (Being dehydrated makes it harder for the body to concentrate on maintaining a safe core temperature.) One drink you'll want to avoid is alcohol. While a nip or two may give you a "warming" sensation, alcohol actually causes dehydration. 

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Keep Moving

winter-snowball-fight.jpg
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The more active you are in cold weather, the more heat your body will generate as a result.

If you do plan to sit or stand outside for long periods of time, wiggle your hands and toes every few minutes to keep the blood (and therefore, heat) circulating in these extremities.