University of Vermont

Surviving a Vermont Winter

For people experiencing cold weather for the first time the idea of keeping safe and warm can be very perplexing. Sometimes the scene outside our window appears sunny and warm but upon stepping outdoors we are rudely reminded that it is cold outside.

Another part of the problem is that while we must wear layer upon layer of clothing outside to keep warm, once we enter a building such as a store, a classroom or an office, we get over-heated very quickly. At times it is as if we should dress for summer temperatures inside while dressing for winter temperatures outside. The body, especially the skin, requires special attention during the cold months. The cold weather in combination with the dry heat found in the most buildings may dry out the skin. The skin can begin to feel tightly stretched and itchy and the lips and hands may develop painful cracks. The inside fo the nose can also become very dry and develop painful cracks. All of these dry skin conditions can be prevented by using a hand and body lotion which can be purchased at a local drug store, department stores or supermarket. For chapped (dry) lips, medicated lip balms are the best remedy. Some brand names are "Chapstik", "Vaseline Lip Balm", and "Blistex". These lip balms are orderless and colorless, easy to carry and suitable for both women and men.

Keeping warm in winter can be a challenge but the key to keeping warm is to wear several layers of lightweight warm clothing. Wool clothing is warmer than clothing made of other materials, however wool can also cause skin irritation (itching and rashes) so it is advisable to try on wool clothing before purchasing it to make sure it does not irritate your skin. Wearing a non-irritating piece of clothing under wool can diminish the sometimes irritating feel of wool. These layers of clothing trap warm air close to your body and allow you to take off one layer at a time if you find yourself too warm.

Appropriate clothing for winter is a warm heavy coat, a hat, mittens or gloves, heavy, warm boots, long heavy pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater and a winter scarf or muffler. Many people wear thermal underware during winter. This underwar is designed to retain body heat and cover the entire body. It is made for fvarious degrees of cold weather from "cold" to "coldest". The underwear package specifies the type of weather for which it is designed. All of the clothing mentioned can be purchased at local department, discount and sporting goods stores.

Winter in Vermont can be a beautiful time if we take care of ourselves. Remember to stay warm and if you have questions about what to expect or how to keep warm just ask someone who has been here during the winter. We are all in this together!

Last modified January 19 2011 02:31 PM

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