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Cold Weather Safety Tips

How to dress for cold weather in the USA?

In many US states, the weather can be very cold, so our international nursing agency has picked up some important tips for you

Get a high-quality cold weather coat with a hood.

Your coat should fit a little loose on your body so that you can comfortably layer clothing underneath it. Opt for polyester, polypropylene, or water-resistant materials like nylon to protect yourself from water.[1]

  • If your cold weather coat fits snug when you’re wearing a T-shirt, it’s likely too small. You need enough room to wear 2-3 layers underneath your coat, so move one size up from what you’d normally wear if you’re not sure about how much room you’ll have underneath.
  • Look for a cold weather coat with deep pockets so that you can stuff your hands inside of them if you ever forget your gloves.
  • Stick with zippers instead of buttons. Zippers provide a tighter seal when it comes to windy weather.
  • Jackets are shorter than coats and tend to only keep your upper body warm. Longer coats will provide more protection from inclement weather.

Cover your head and ears with a thick cold weather hat.

 If your coat comes with a hood, feel free to get a hat made out of wool, knit fabric, or a poly-cotton blend. If your coat is missing a hood, look for water-resistant hats with a nylon or polyester outer-layer to keep your head dry when it rains or snows. Pick a cold weather hat that will cover your ears, since cold ears can make your entire head feel cold even if the top of your head is covered.[2]

  • A hat that covers the top of your head but leaves your ears exposed is never a good choice.
  • Hats come in a variety of styles and colors. Pick a cold weather hat that looks stylish to you!
  • Earmuffs are a good replacement for a hat if you’re going into work and need to keep your hair styled.
  • Your ears don’t naturally have a lot of protection, so it’s important to keep them warm.

Protect your hands by wearing a thick pair of cold weather waterproof gloves with padding.

A thick pair of  gloves is essential in cold weather. Opt for a pair of casual or functional waterproof gloves with a wool or cushion lining. The cuffs of your gloves should extend past the cuffs of your coat to ensure that your wrists aren’t exposed to the elements.[3]

  • Unless you’re going to work, avoid leather dress gloves. They tend to be quite thin and are rarely water-resistant.
  • There are plenty of winter waterproof gloves  that come with special padding on the fingers that will allow you to use your phone while you’re wearing them.
  • Mittens are a good choice if you’re a fan of them, but they can also make your hands sweat, which will leave them feeling clammy and cold. Avoid them if you tend to get sweaty hands.

Cover your face with a cold weather face mask, a scarf, balaclava, or ski mask.

Covering your face will keep the wind and cold air away from the most sensitive parts of your body. Get a scarf and loop it around your neck. Take the 2 loose ends together and thread them through the loop on the other side. Pull the loose ends to tighten the scarf around your neck. Pull the top section of the scarf up to cover your nose and lips when needed. A ski mask is an excellent choice in extremely cold weather.[4]

  • Buy a ski mask from a sporting goods store to ensure that it’s actually designed for athletic activity.
  • A balaclava is like a hat that covers your entire head, with small openings for your lips and eyes. They’re a good replacement for a hat if you want to keep your face warm.
  • When it comes to winter styles, a cool scarf can really bring an outfit together.

Get thick socks and a pair of big cold weather boots to keep your feet warm.

To protect your feet, opt for a pair of thick winter boots. Get cold weather boots that rise above your ankles, and buy a pair that is a half-size bigger than your regular shoe size to make room for your socks. Get a thick pair of wool socks. If you’re going to be trudging through the snow, opt for thermal socks instead, since wool will absorb water.[5]

  • Cotton absorbs water and moisture. This means that standard cotton socks can actually make your feet feel colder if you’re wearing them with winter boots since they’ll absorb sweat when your feet are warm.

Wear pants for cold weather made of wool or thick fleece.

Unless you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside, fleece and wool pants will both work well in the cold. The thicker the fabric is, the better. Polyester can work as well, but thinner polyester tends to be too breathable for frigid weather.[6]

  • Thick denim is great in the cold, but if it’s snowing or raining it’s not a good choice. Denim can take quite a while to dry in cold temperatures, and it isn’t good at repelling water.
  • Hiking pants are a great choice if they’re made out of nylon. However, spandex and cotton pants will not keep you warm in cold weather.


Keep legs warm with a pair of long underwear or snow pants. In extreme temperatures, wear snow pants over your pants to keep your legs warm. If you’re going to work or want an added layer of protection, wear a set of long underwear under your pants to give your legs some added protection.[7]

  • For most people, boots, a coat, gloves, and a hat are enough to stay warm. If it isn’t too cold out, there’s no need to wear any extra garments to protect your legs.

Cold Weather Driving Tips

Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.

Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.

Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.

Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.

Tips for Driving in the Snow

Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.

Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.

Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

Tips for Long-Distance Winter Trips

Be Prepared: Have your vehicle checked by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility before hitting the road.

Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route and when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.

Stay Connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

If you get stuck in the snow:

Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.

Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.

Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.

Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel