No more quoting the Stark family this year: Winter is officially here. And for the rest of this week, you're not just looking at chilly temperatures and a flurry of snow here and there. You're actually going to need to survive the Polar Vortex that's about to pummel the Midwest and Northeast with dangerously cold temperatures. According to AccuWeather, you can expect to feel the effects of the Arctic air from about Thursday to Saturday afternoon.
If you're especially unlucky, you might be in a place that's expecting wind chills that could dip into the realm of 30 to 40 degrees below zero, a point where any skin exposed for more than 10 minutes is in danger of frostbite. Take it from me, a southerner who went to college in Chicago and got a pretty big shock that first winter — you've gotta prepare yourself. Whether this is your first polar vortex or you've gone through it for a couple of years now, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind as you make your plans for the rest of the week. Remember, it all boils down to the one, most important thing: your safety. Here are 11 tips to help you survive this frigid onslaught.
1. Stay Inside As Much As Possible
It's classic advice — when it's super cold outside, you should avoid going outside. There's a reason you pay those ridiculous heating costs, so take advantage of them now when you really need to.
2. Cover Up — No One Wants Frostbite!
If you grew up in what I lovingly like to call a winter country, you know this one. The advice is mostly for the southern transplants who think that it's okay to go outside without a hat because they have difficult hair (or was that just me?). In this case, it's really not okay. Make sure that your head, your ears, your hands, and as much of your face as possible is covered up well. Several times I saw a person walking across campus wearing a literal comforter — and I was jealous. It's going to be like that.
3. Don't Be Afraid Of Long Underwear
You may not think they're cool, until you go outside with a pair under your jeans and you discover that your legs aren't freezing off. I won't judge if you wear a pair this entire week — I've certainly done that before.
4. Invest In Hand And Foot Warmers
These are old news for football fans from cold climates and absolute magic for anyone else. They're available at outdoor stores everywhere or online. For best results, layer a pair of gloves, the hand warmers, and then a pair of mittens. Not the best for maneuvering, but definitely the best for not freezing your fingers off.
5. Do Your Holiday Shopping Online
You don't have to talk to people, you don't have to go outside, you can use your Amazon Prime — this is really the perfect solution for everything.
6. Prepare For Travel Delays
If you're flying, you can be pretty certain that there will be a delay. Then you'll just be pleasantly surprised if there's not! If you're just driving or riding the public transport to work, there's a good chance that that'll be working more slowly too, so plan that into your schedule and cover up if you have to wait outside. If you're driving, don't forget your winter survival kit for cars in case you get stuck somewhere.
7. Netflix And ... Don't Chill
Netflix and cozy up! As if you needed another excuse to stay home and curl up on the couch with your cat and a good movie — here it is.
8. Think About Your Fabrics
Don't trust cotton to get you through this one. Ideally, you'll have a base layer, an insulating layer, and an outer layer to protect you from the elements (which you'll be seeing a lot of). On the bottom, use something like wool or polyester that wicks moisture away from your skin (this is key in such cold weather). Next, you need some sort of insulation like fleece or down. Finally, your outer jacket should use something like nylon to protect you from all that wind.
9. Put Your Oven To Work
Does anything warm up the house like a fresh batch of cookies? Nope, nope, nope. Replicate the feeling of Thanksgiving morning and cozy up in your kitchen with easy baking recipes galore.
10. No Wet Hair Outside
If you have an Eastern European grandmother, she's definitely told you this before, and if you're like me, you've definitely ignored it. But now, there's actually science to back it up — you're more likely to get a cold if you let your body temperature lower. Letting your wet hair freeze is a great way to do that, so take your shower at night or use your blow dryer in the morning.
11. Drink Up!
There's a reason that you can find mulled wine on every street corner of every European capital at this time of year. Something about just the right amount of booze in your stomach is like your own personal fireplace. Here's a mulled wine recipe if you'd like to invite some friends over and try it yourself. Note: please drink responsibly, and only if you're older than 21.
No one's claiming that it's going to be an enjoyable next couple of days, but if you put these tips to use, then you're sure to make them the best that they can possibly be. Stay safe out there!