Monday, December 30, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Out There!

If you live in the Northern Plains or Upper Midwest, you know what I'm talking about.  I woke to -11 degrees F. this morning and a wind chill of about -30 degrees.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I must venture outside this afternoon for a meeting and errands, and I'm already thinking about my strategy for surviving the excursion.

Exposed skin in this dangerously cold weather can freeze in a matter of minutes.  It's important to cover up!  The skin on the face and ears is much thinner than on the rest of the body.  How to cover up?  I use a wool scarf wrapped around my head over my down coat's hood.  I will also wear a hat or ear muffs under the hood.  By the time I'm finished bundling up, I'm covered head to toe with only my eyes visible.

You can bet they've dressed in warm layers!  (From Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Wearing warm boots is the other really important part of my strategy.  I find that winter boots now are pathetically half-lined, if lined at all, and with material that does little to keep the cold at bay.  What happened to the fully-lined boots that used fleece?  The warmest boots I ever had I bought at L. L. Bean in the 1980's.  They were sturdily constructed -- I still have them -- and fully lined with fleece.  The problem with them was the soles -- the rubber wore smooth so that I can no longer get any kind of traction on ice or snow.  I've taken them to shoe repair shops to see if someone could either carve out deeper grooves or re-sole them, but no one has had any creative, successful ideas.

So, I have three pair of boots.  One I bought thinking they were lined with fleece like the section hugging my legs.  No.  They are not warm for my feet at all, and I wear them more as a rain boot than a snow boot.  My second pair are shoe boots that lace up the front.  They are lined with Thinsulate which doesn't work as advertised in this kind of cold.  I layer socks to stay warm.  My third pair have Thinsulate lining for the bottom of the foot, not the top, and these boots can get unbelievably cold.  I layer my socks, but that doesn't always work.

I know that when I go outdoors today, I'll see people without hats, young women with tiny jackets and bare legs, as well as older people without boots.  These are the people who could end up in the hospital ER with frostbite.  I work hard to insure I'm not one of them.....

Thanks for Paul Douglas at the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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