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Cold … what cold?

Warm up for the big freeze

Hungary is having cold weather the likes of which it hasn’t seen in 35 years. As temperatures stay below freezing, the risk of exposure to the cold becomes ever more prevalent, especially when children are playing out of doors. Here are some tips you can use to keep warm when it is extremely chilly outside.

Layers, layers, layers

This is a no-brainer. Through conduction, you lose heat whenever your body comes into direct contact with something cold, for example sitting on the ground. Through convection, wind robs your body heat. Keeping yourself properly insulated can protect your against both types of heat loss. Wearing layers of clothes such as long underwear and thick wool sweaters will trap your body’s own heat next to your skin, preventing loss through conduction. Topping this off with a waterproof and windproof layer will ensure that trapped heat isn’t whisked away by the wind, or convection. The object is to close off your body’s micro-environment from all forms of heat-stealing weather and keep you toasty and warm.

Stay dry

One of the best tips for staying warm is to keep yourself dry. Nothing will cool you down quicker than being wet. Aside from staying out of the water, keeping yourself dry next to your skin is very important. When you are outside moving around and having fun in the snow or cold, it is easy to start sweating. Wear clothing made from synthetic materials that move moisture away from the skin, called wicking. Avoid cotton when possible because it absorbs moisture and can trap wetness against your skin, making you feel colder. If you’re trekking through the wet woods, bring an extra pair of warm socks to change into if your first ones get wet.

Keep your core warm

Our body’s first objective is to keep the core organs warm, then send heat to the extremities, such as fingers and toes. Our core temperature is 37 C and hypothermia sets in when it falls just two degrees. The reason people lose fingers and toes first in cold weather is because the body regulates the heat to the outer extremities by conserving heat for the core. Want to keep your fingers and toes warm? Make sure you’ve got a nice warm core.

Eat and drink right

A variety of foods can help the body stay warm during these winter months, and tolerance of the cold is much better if food and water balance are maintained. Experts say grains, spices and oils give the body energy to keep warm. Eating healthy fats during winter can help rev up metabolism, which in turn heats the body. One tip Canadian postmen swear by is taking hot cayenne pepper pills to help boost their internal body heat. When it’s really cold outside, it’s typically dry as well. With each breath you take, your body is losing the vital moisture it needs to run properly (remember we are about 70% water). Stop from time to time to get a drink and keep your body running smoothly … of course, this does not mean alcohol, which actually helps drop the core temperature.

Keep your fingers and toes warm

As your body is working extra hard keeping the core warm, hypothermia is most likely to begin with fingers and toes. One way to keep a warm feeling in your fingers is to wear mittens instead of gloves. This is because clustering fingers together helps to produce more insulating body heat. For your feet, remember that shoes don’t make your feet warm, they help retain the heat that’s put into them. Warm up your winter boots before putting them on so that your feet are not chilly. This will help keep your “little piggies” nice and warm on your way to the market or all the way home.

Hopefully these few tips will help you survive this year’s dip into lower temperatures. Remember them, and spending hours outside will no longer be a dreaded, miserable experience. Instead you’ll be layered into your own private ecosystem designed to keep you warm and dry all day long.

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