Wednesday, 1 December 2010

My Top 10 tips for surving the cold snap...

I hate to be cold. Hate it hate it hate it. (Which I appreciate is rather ironic given my favourite type of holiday - skiing - and my current place of residence). So I do feel sympathetic to all the Brits who are currently going through a highly unseasonal cold snap, and just thought I would I would do a quick post on how to deal with it, based on my experience of -25degC and below in Moscow...

Don't go out.

Oh, right. You want more serious stuff? Right.

1. Invest in snow trousers for your kids. These should be worn over their normal trousers for extra warmth (I know that sounds obvious but wasn't to me until we got here), and if possible they should be padded all the way down. Oh, and a pair with reinforced knees and bums are even better (Helly Hansen do great ones - and no, this is NOT a sponsored post!), as in the absence of a sledge, kids will just skid along on whatever comes to hand - like those brand new snow pants you just bought them.

2. Invest in proper hats - for your kids and for you. Since the kids don't need to look cool, particularly, the ones with ear flaps that fasten under the chin are best, whereas for you whatever does the job without totally ruining your day due to the need carry rollers, hair product and spend an extra 10 minutes in the loo repairing the damage whenever you get where you're going is always the best choice. Oh, and don't worry about looking like a prat. It's a hat. You probably will. But then so will everyone else, and at least you'll be warm...

3. Gloves. Thick ones. None of that fine leather stuff that shows off the perfect bone structure of your wrist (especially if you're anything like me with Reynaud's Syndrome and end up with dead people's hands when you get too cold). No, you need proper thermal ski gloves - you won't regret it.

4. Layers. Thermal tops are gifts of the gods - and Uniqlo do a great and inexpensive range. Wear a black one with a funky top over it and you could even look like you mean to dress that way...

5. Snow boots. For your kids (sorry, but wellies just don't cut it), and for you. Go on; embrace the yetty in yourself. Nothing (apart from cold hands) is worse than cold feet. Except that little bit of snow down the back of your neck from a snow ball, obviously. And if you're going somewhere where you need to look smart, make like the Russians and start using indoor and outdoor shoes, swapping them over when you get safely to your destination.

6. Limit your time outside. I know this sounds obvious, but on a bright cold day it can be tempting to just get out into it, and up to -10degC or so that's fine. Anything over that though and more than half an hour can send your kids into shock...

7. Watch out for white patches on your children's face. Hats don't normally cover everything up and frostbite does still happen, especially on cheeks and noses. Don't panic, it's treatable, but don't invite it either.

8. Don't expect to get anywhere fast. Even if you're walking, it can take longer than usual, and if you're driving, once you've factored in extra time for defrosting the car and allowing for accidents on the road on the way, well, it's anyone's guess when you'll get there. Take a chill pill (ha!) and relax. Oh, and go to the loo before you leave...

9. And whilst we're talking about the car, if you are parked on the flat, don't pull the handbrake all the way up. In extreme temperatures, they can freeze into place if you do - which can be rather inconvenient.

10. And last but not least, learn to make hot chocolate. Fast.


  1. Love them! Fantastic tips! The ultimate winter survival guide!! :D

  2. Good tips - I'm on the search for the perfect pair of winter boots, warm and waterproof and not totally ugly

    So far having little luck but I'm travelling hopefully

  3. Fabulous tips thanks. I have been asking around the shops for ski trousers and waterproofs for Youngling's age group (20 months) but everyone seems to have had the common knoweledge side of their brains frozen solid in this weather. Luckily we havent had it too bad fingers crossed we get a little more around Christmas. But not so much that DH gets snowed in at work! xx

  4. Couldn't be better timing as the snow fell in the deep South Eastern Suburbs yesterday and has caused chaos.

  5. Excellent tips, PM. It isn't as cold as Russia here, but it did get pretty freezing in January, so I would definitely agree on the proper ski gloves and snow trousers - and ski socks for kids are great for keeping little feet warm inside boots, too. Although, if you have little boys like me who don't look after their gloves, you might also want to invest in a few cheap pairs so that you don't despair when one gets lost....

  6. Well, reading that makes me grateful we'll "only" get -9 tomorrow. Thank you! (Oh, and I commiserate of course.)

  7. Yes, we learned that there is no inclement weather . . . just people without the proper gear.

    I have a fur coat (but it is too big for me, so the wind just blew right up it), so I got a knee-length down filled one. Not so sweaty on the Metro that way. I have a fur chapka (hat with ears), and silk long underwear/shirts. Serious, lined leather gloves, like you said.

    I also ordered an item called Yaktrax (again, I am not in any way paid to promote them). I had people stop me outside the Metro and beg me to tell them where I got these. They easily slip on over your shoes/boots and keep you from falling on the icy streets. because in Moscow they clean off the streets leaving the thinnest possible layer of ice because Moscow does not believe in salt.

    We each had a pair, and they were priceless. Not terribly expensive either. Check amazon.

  8. You had me at don't go out.
    I'm more scared of falling on my arse.
    Great tips, spasiba and poka.

  9. Thanks Emma!

    MAM - see the comment from the Expatresse above!

    Kate, good luck with the search (did you try the Muddy Puddles website yet?)

    DG, am so hoping it won't affect HR - am due to fly home for the weekend tomorrow...

    NVG - wise words indeed!

    Mwa, anything I can do to spread a little happiness.

    Expatresse, I will be checking out those boots pronto!

    Linda, congrats on your award and yes, best to stay in, I think...


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