Below Zero: Dressing for cold weather

This is part of a series about all things cold weather – our missions, operations, and safety guidance. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and look for our #belowzero stories, images, and tips!

Name one person who likes frosty toes.

Can’t think of anyone? Neither can we. In the video above, our Coast Guard crews demonstrate their regulation cold weather gear that keeps them toasty during cold weather missions, but we wouldn’t be a humanitarian service if we didn’t keep our followers, friends and family clued in on how you can keep safe and warm too.

Weather can be tricky. Even in 50°, if you’ve got 20 mph winds, temperatures actually drop down to near freezing. On days like these, it’s best to bundle up. Loss of coordination, rational thinking and motor skills can set in within minutes.

If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.

Layering may depend on your activity level, but to best maximize your comfort, there are three layers, much like what is mentioned in the video above, that you can add or subtract when outdoors.

1. The base layer: the layer against your skin helps regulate your body temperature by moving perspiration from the skin. Cotton retains perspiration so it’s best if your base layer be made of merino wool, synthetic fabrics or even silk.

2. The insulating layer: protects your from the cold. Wool, goose down and classic fleece are great insulating layers.

3. The shell layer: shields you from wind and rain. The shell should allow at least some perspiration to escape. Without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but will condense inside of the shell. Make sure the shell layer is roomy enough to fit easily over other layers and not restrict movement.

Here are some additional tips to help you dress for the weather:

  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat.

Speaking of hats, studies show the old saying of the majority of body heat leaving through your head… is a myth! The face, head and upper chest are five times as sensitive to changes in temperature, but heat will leave from any body part left uncovered. Bottom line: dress warmly from head to toe.

Tags: ,