As I said in my [Living in the Desert] post… personally, I do not live in the cold. But let’s say I’d like to write about someone who does one day… and lets say that I don’t have the time/money to go to the desert for a bit and feel out the environment.
What do I do? Scour the internet trying to put the pieces together. I have done this. And, picking out & putting together various sources of information (including forums) I have put this together to share. So please keep in mind, these are other people’s experiences and opinions on living in these conditions (and also general facts/information). Thank you :)
I also figured we could use this information to apply to possible cold-weather extraterrestrial environments.
7 Tips on Surviving the Cold from People Living in Cold Places
- Go outside more frequently, being outside more gets you acclimated to the conditions faster.
- Find time to exercise, even walking in a mall helps, besides the health reasons, it tends to help fight the winter blues if you stay active.
- Plastic bags (bread bags) used like socks before you put on boots or shoes can add an extra layer of dryness, if not a little warmth in a pinch.
- Literally, stuffing newspaper in your clothing if you are stuck in a car jam on a freeway…could make a critical difference in staying warm enough.
- Stay warm, but not too warm. On very cold days it can be tempting to wear everything you’ve got, even while you’re working outside. But if you’re doing work, get too warm and start sweating, and then stop working, that sweat can cool you back down rapidly, creating a dangerous situation.
- If you’re going to be working on snow in full sunlight for a while, be sure to apply sunblock to skin facing the ground — I’ve seen numerous people sunburn the bottom of their chin, nose, and roof of their mouth from sunlight reflected off the snow.
- Drink Yak Butter Tea.
—“I have several pairs of insulated bib overalls made by Berne that keep me comfy in winter when I have to be outside but since I’m retired I no longer have as much hassle - like scraping windshield and warming up the car before going to work early in the morning. I plan appointments and errands for later in the day after the risk of black ice is over.”
—“It’s always better to have too much on than too little on when you are out and about. If you get hot, you can always unzip/unbutton/take stuff off. But if you get cold, what are you gonna do? I’m usually overdressed but it’s better than being under-dressed.”
Cold weather has a dramatic effect on human health. According to a University of California, Berkeley economist, deaths related to cold reduce the average life expectancy of Americans by a decade, if not more [source: UC Berkeley News]. Cold weather also indirectly causes fatalities through accidents due to snow and ice, carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. The elderly and the infirm are most susceptible to cold weather illness and injury, although the same UC Berkeley study reports that women make up two-thirds of the deaths after a cold spell. [x]
What effect does extreme cold have on the human body?
Surprising Health Benefits Of Cold Weather
The Pros And Cons Of Living In A Cold Climate
"I live near Dawson City Yukon. …
It is -8C here right now - of course, we are in to spring right now, so it is getting warm. The Percy De Wolf Mail Run Sled Dog race is on today - dog teams race along the Yukon River to Eagle Alaska and back, carrying mail like the old days. There is about 1.5’ of snow on the ground still, and the ice is thick enough to drive on, so no worries.
My house has 2 furnaces, a wood one, and propane. The propane tank has an electric heater under it, as propane gels at -40C. We easily get down to -50C here in winter, often for weeks at a time. Many homes have wood stoves as well as their furnace(s). We just put in triple-ply Arctic rated windows (with Argon between the layers). The company now makes quadruply-ply windows as well. We also installed Arctic doors - this is a double door. Many houses and other buildings also have a porch area - a door to the outside that goes into a little room, that has another solid door to the inside of the house/store/whatever. This helps keep the heat in, and the cold out. Insulation here is a big deal; we try to make the houses as snug as possible.
Vehicles all have block heaters, and sometimes battery blankets as well. This helps with starting. When in town shopping, most people just leave their vehicles running, or they might not get them started again. Most businesses will have places to plug vehicles in to for their employees. Many will use a cover for the front of their cars, to keep the radiators from over-cooling. There are many moose here, so a moosehide cover is common, although some use cardboard (especially in other parts of Canada). Trucks and SUV’s are very common. Few have sporty cars. Driving is great, as the snow fills in the potholes and rough spots, and below -25C or so, it is not slippery at all - the snow is too cold to melt when you drive over it. You can actually drive faster in winter than summer - especially as there are also no tourists on the road! We can also drive across the river on a bridge made of ice. In the summer, there is a ferry.
We dress sensibly, not for fashion, especially in winter. The natives here make wonderful mitts and hats out of fur. Usually fox and moosehide, but others are sometimes used. Wolf fur is good for trimming a parka, as frost (from your breath) does not stick to it and build up. Many men (most?) have beards, which also helps in winter. Thick boots, long underwear, and multiple layers are the norm. At -50C, exposed skin freezes in seconds, so you need to be pretty bundled up.
You do get used to it. There are people here that live in a thing called a wall tent - basically, a canvas tent maybe 10x15’ or so. Some have log walls, and a canvas top. They use a pot-bellied wood stove for heat. A great many people have snowmobiles (I’m buying one tomorrow!), and about 1/2 my neighbours have dog teams, although nowadays, these are just for racing and fun. People absolutely go outside; I am a Canadian Ranger (a Reserve branch of the military), and we are going out on patrol next week, on snowmobiles. While it is pretty warm now (-25C at night, and -5C during the day), my patrol has gone out in -50C temps, and lived outside. It is no big deal; we just look to the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic who have lived like this for thousands of years. A wise person learns from the locals!”
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I hope this was somewhat informative and put a more ‘realistic’ perspective of what life is probably actually like in the cold, as opposed to looking at a bunch of charts and climate information sheets and trying to make it up from there! Happy writing!