Winter is here, and for some parts of the UK, and the rest of the world, snow is already falling. So traveling can be quite a challenge, whether you are in your car or on foot. I would say it is better to be prepared than not, but your health or your life is at stake here. So it is crucial that you are prepared and ready, this is not a choice. This is a short guide for being prepared.
Cold weather tips
Prepare! This is the basis of all things. Failing to prepare can have severe consequences. Especially in cold temperatures. This could be traveling, at home or even just walking to work.
Body heat! Keep warm, protect your body, and wrap up warm. This includes all areas, feet, hands, and your head.
Keep yourself covered! It's not just the cold temperature, it's also the wind and exposure to the elements. The wind can strip away the warmth on any exposed areas of the body. Keep it covered as much as you can.
Layers! Ok, you are going for a walk, maybe taking the pet out, or just a stroll. Having just a fluffy top on, won't cut it. Layer up, you may not have all the thermal gear, but here is the best way to keep your body heat. Base layer: A long sleeve top, close to your skin. Midlayer: For insulation, wool or polyester, or a mix. Outer layer: A hooded top or fleece, and a warm jacket. If your jacket is not windproof, use an outer shell that is.
You will be trapping air in all these layers, this will keep the heat in.
High-intensity activities will generate body heat and sweat, so it's necessary to wear clothing that is breathable, moisture-wicking, and has good temperature regulation properties.
Hydrate! Avoid ice-cold drinks whilst you are out. This will lower your core temperature. Also severe cold is the same effect as severe heat. Hydrate yourself.
Travel! If you don't have to, stay at home. Only travel if you need to.
Alcohol! The popular belief is that it warms you up, but alcohol does not warm you.
Traveling in vehicles
Before setting out on any journey, most people would check their car. Coolant, oils, tyres, etc:
But do you have some sort of supplies in the boot? For example, a car emergency kit, food, and water? These are just the basics, but very important. For a full guide visit here This will give you a good understanding of what to take. Once you have the gear, just leave it in your vehicle, replace what you use though.
You'll be grateful that when you need it, you'll have the necessary gear to help you.
If you have a get-home bag, put it in your car, no point leaving it at home. You should do this at any time of the year. You may need to shovel the snow, having a good compact shovel is a good idea, and it doesn't take much space. Also, have some grit or salt in the boot, you can get these from the pound store.
Breaking down in your car, or just being unable to move your car due to severe weather is no fun, if it is bad weather and safe to do so, stay in your car. Move what supplies you have into the seating area of the car, so it is accessible. The less you open the door, the better. If you are snowed in and stuck, run your engine for warmth for a few minutes an hour, This will keep you warm and makes sure your car will start when needed. NEVER leave the engine running and go asleep. You'll be in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Saying that, crank the window down every so often just to vent the car, when you have the engine running. Try to keep your feet out of the footwells, these are the coldest part of the car.
If you need to leave the car because it is unsafe to stay, take what you need, and put it in a bag, a rucksack would be great, or keep a small bag in the boot, like a pull-cord gym bag. If you can get to a safe place, do so.
Here is a short clip using a torch I have, the left clip is attached to my car via the built-in magnet and the right clip is showing you an example. This is a very good torch. LED lighting, so it lasts. The main torch, which is very powerful, and a side LED strobe light. It runs on a 18650 battery (lasts longer) or 3 AAA batteries. I have 2 of these, so I can attach them to my car so it can be seen in both directions. Better to be seen, hazard lights are great, but these are better. Have some spare batteries with you as well. I don't have these in the store yet, so you can get them on Amazon. They are not very expensive either.
Traveling on foot
There will be a lot of times when you will just walk, maybe to work, for a stroll, or under certain circumstances, you have to leave your car. Make sure that you have layered up and have the essentials with you. An EDC pouch or bag would be ideal, but at least a survival blanket, water, energy bars, some type of communication, phone or radio, etc. You may think, I'll be ok, but those are the famous last words. Plan ahead, even for short journeys. Check the weather before you venture out. A cold front could appear quickly. The right footwear would be a sensible idea, and also some good socks. Don't forget a warm hat and gloves too.
Be careful where you walk, if you can't see it, you don't know it's there. Foot injuries happen very quickly, or could be worse. Use a walking pole if you have one with you or just a long stick to prod in front of you. Please don't rush, just take your time, you'll be safer.
If the area in front of you does not look safe, it probably isn't. Don't take chances. Take your torch with you as well.
I hope this small guide has given you some awareness for braving the elements whilst traveling.
It is better to be prepared than not at all. It does not take much to adjust, you will be glad that you did. Hopefully, you may not need to put into action any of the advice given, but if anything happens whilst you are traveling, at least you would have the tools and some knowledge to help you.
Stay safe, and be prepared.