How to survive winter weather


Kevin Chen

BUNDLE UP. As temperatures continue to drop, wearing proper layers and taking precautions continues to be essential to getting through winter. “[The key is] just adapting to being outside and wearing a little bit of comfy or warmer clothing in general,” senior Henry Wertkin said.

As it gets further into January, Minnesota winter begins to reach its peak, with temperatures possibly diving towards -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, SPA students are taking numerous measures in order to not only stay comfortable but stay safe.
There are many precautions one can take to stay safe during the winter. For students who drive, car maintenance is key. Checking the car battery, windshield wipers, and tire treads is not only sound advice but especially important during the cold. However, what if car maintenance fails? Then it’s time to turn to the most reliable methods of dealing with winter weather: layering and food.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, cold weather can have negative effects on one’s physical health in a variety of ways. Although car accidents from road and weather conditions are notable and unfortunately frequent this time of year, there are more subtle effects of cold weather that should not go unrecognized. Breathing extremely cold air can cause blood vessels to constrict, causing an increase in blood pressure and, if dire, a risk of heart attacks and stroke. If exposure to the cold becomes severe enough, it’s possible to experience acute hypothermia, with signs being stiffness in the neck, arms, and legs.
Whether it be extra blankets in the car in case of emergency or extra clothes worn during the walk to school or at home, layering is a simple way to protect oneself during the winter. Hot beverages or warm foods can also serve as a satisfying method of protection, as warm fluids, preferably those with more fat and no caffeine like hot chocolate, can increase your body temperature and give extra calories against the cold. But how do students at SPA apply this?

I pretty much always have my winter jacket with me, and that’s kind of the main thing, especially because I have a long commute to school.”

— Cooper McKinnon

Senior Henry Wertkin says the key to tackling the winter weather is “just adapting to being outside and wearing a little bit of comfy or warmer clothing in general.” As for his idea of adapting, Wertkin wears an undershirt, overshirt, and sweater at home, alongside a winter jacket when going to school. As for his diet, he incorporates borscht, an Eastern European beetroot stew, and other hearty meals like chicken noodle soup or mashed potatoes and pot roast to warm him up. Senior Cooper McKinnon recommends wearing scarfs and balaclavas for covering the ears and nose because protecting the head is crucial to warming the rest of the body.

“I pretty much always have my winter jacket with me, and that’s kind of the main thing, especially because I have a long commute to school. Otherwise, I could probably even get frostbite some of these days.” McKinnon said.
These suggestions are all backed by the National Institute of Health, which recommends wearing layers of loose clothing to trap air as an insulant. It’s also recommended to wear socks, slippers, scarves, and even hats indoors if it’s cold enough. These can prevent hypothermia, which is shivering and stiffness in the limbs or a body temperature of 95 degrees or lower. However, even layering is not the only thing that can be done to bolster oneself against the cold.
“I was told that if you’re outside, and it’s cold, it’s a good idea to keep on moving to make sure that you maintain your body heat.” senior Seth Grewe said.
It may seem strange, but outdoor exercise can be beneficial even during cold weather. This is because physical exercise can not only help bolster the immune system, which is great for preventing colds and other illnesses common in the winter. However, Grewe prefers not to stay outside for too long, and he wears long sleeve shirts and pants indoors to stay extra warm.
Even as temperatures plummet further, comfort can be found by wearing thick, warm clothes and enjoying hearty meals to keep yourself safe from the effects of cold air. With these tips, the long wait until the first day of spring will not just be tolerable but comfortable.