- Education and Science
What to wear in the snow
When the snow starts to fall...
The best way to not get caught out in the snow is not to go out, but if you do, make sure you take some sensible precautions so you don’t get stuck or injured. If you do end up having to have a snow day as you fail to make it into work or the school closes, best make the most of it, wrap up warm and get the sledge out of the shed, and after that, start work on building the snowman.
In the cold weather, the extremities are the parts of you that will feel the cold most, so make sure you wear good thick socks inside your wellingtons or boots (make sure your footwear is waterproof and higher than your ankle so the snow cannot get in). Keep your hands warm with gloves or mittens, preferably waterproof, especially if you are planning a snowball fight or you want to build a snowman or igloo. Keep your head, ears and neck warm with hats and scarves, wrap it around your face so your nose stays warm.
Find a good waterproof padded coat and some waterproof trousers to go over your normal trousers if you’re planning to go sledging. If you can, find good quality ski-wear. All in one body suits are best as they keep out the drafts and the snow cannot get in.
If you are planning a journey, take sensible precautions. Drive slowly in second gear to prevent skidding, but try to keep the car moving. Lightly pump the brakes carefully rather than slamming them on as this will make the car skid. Take everything carefully and allow more time - approach junctions slowly and be careful when turning or taking bends. Try to anticipate where there might be black ice or frozen water on the road that you cannot see (for example, under overhanging trees on the road).
Be prepared in the event of a breakdown. A car will quickly become very col once the engine stops running. Keep some high calorie snacks such as chocolate in the boot of your car, fleecy coats or blankets, a waterproof jacket and even a flask of a hot drink. You may have to wait a long time for the recovery services to get to you. Carry a snow shovel in your boot and some snow salt or grit so that if your wheels get stuck, you can remove the snow from around them. An old sweater or piece of carpet can be useful to put under your tyres to get a grip when the wheels keep spinning on the ice. You can also buy snow chains or socks for your tyres, which greatly improve friction. Make sure you buy the right size for your tyres and remove them when driving on roads that don’t have snow or ice.
If you’re walking, make sure you have sturdy, warm, comfortable footwear. You can buy cleats or shoegrippers that fit over your shoe that provide spikes or friction devices to help prevent against slipping in the snow. Try using a walking pole to help give you extra support. This is particularly important for elderly people who might sustain fractures or breakages from slippig on the ice. You can buy handwarmers and feetwarmers that have crystals, gels or wheat in them that you heat in boiling water or the microwave before you leave and they retain their heat over a long period of time. Ideal if you have to wait for a bus or train and you cannot keep on the move. Some of these devices can simply be snapped to activate the heat device, so they are ideal for trekking or taking with you in emergencies. These can only be used once though, so you will need a supply of them.
Try to remember to take a mobile phone with you if you have to travel in icy weather so that you can contact people to let them know of delays, cancellations or accidents (although remember it is illegal in the UK to use a mobile while driving).
If you are planning a journey by car, check the weather forecast and driving conditions before you leave and make sure that you have the necessary details of any breakdown recovery service that you belong to (most will require you to carry a membership card). Remember basic car maintenance, check that your car has enough antifreeze and windscreen cleaning fluid. Check the blades on the windscreen wipers are working as the heavy snow will cause damage to them. Check headlights and heaters are working. Keep a travel blanket in the boot of your car in case of breakdown. Park you car sensibly, to allow enough space when you start again to allow for some slipping as the car starts to move. Keep your car covered with a sheet of strong plastic or tarpaulin to save having to scrape the snow off. Always remember to have a snowscraper in the car as well as de-icing liquids. You can get heated devices that plug into the cigarette lighter to defrost windows and locks.
Even if you are not planning a journey there are some precautions that you should take. Remember to check on elderly neighbours and relatives to make sure that they have everything they need to stay warm and safe. Offer to do their shopping if this might be a problem. Offer to clear their paths and provide them with grit or salt which may be heavy for them to carry. Be careful when clearing snow from your path as the cleared area can become very slippery as it ices over. Use sand, grit or salt to melt snow and ice, do not use water as this will freeze over and cause black ice, which cannot be seen and is very slippery. It is easier to remove fresh, loose snow rather than leaving it until it has become frozen and hard Keep your house warm and keep the heating on to prevent water pipes from freezing and bursting. Using a big snow shovel can make the task easier. Keep the curtains drawn to help insulate rooms. Use draught excluders to prevent draughts under doors and windows. Stockpile tinned consumables such as cans of soup or beans so you have a supply of hot food and drinks. Try to keep up a supply of hot drinks to keep you warm.
If you have pets that are keep outdoors, consider moving them into shelter or insulate hutches. Make sure that they have plenty of food and fresh water and it has not frozen over.