I worked in the former Soviet Union for over 15 years and spent many a Russian Winter in Siberia, Kazakhstan, Murmansk (north of the Arctic Circle), Armenia, and more. I also hosted scores of native Russians here in the United States during Chicago’s very cold winters. Once during an ice storm to Niagara Falls, it was too cold for any of us to get out of the van.
With an apartment in Moscow, I had to deal with windows that were not insulated (I think that they intentionally had open areas between what should have been weather-strip and the frame). I once spent 2 weeks in Armenia during a winter storm when there was no heat, no hot water, and I slept fully clothed (including boots, scarf, gloves and coat). The snow came into the window (it did not close) as fast as it was coming down. The bedroom was an alcove within a central room; there was no door- just a curtain, and I felt the cold.
My hints for dealing with cold weather, which to me translates to single digits, is as follows:
- Wear layers, including silk long-johns that insulate the entire body; yes, wear layers indoors as well as outside
- Use glove warmers when possible (yes, they do work)
- Consider a dual foot warmer that works like a heating pad, warming those tootsies before you have to get into bed with cold feet
- Travel with a water boiling device that you place into a glass of water to create tea/coffee/hot chocolate
- Pour yourself a glass or mug of hot water and wrap your hands around the cup to enhance warmth
- Remember that heat loss through the scalp can be intense; keep your head covered with more than earmuffs; use a warm hat
- Snuggle up; transfer of body heat is a great way to share the warmth and enhance the relationship
- Keep a blanket in your car, along with an ice scraper, bag of sand or salt, mini shovel (from a toy store)
- Keep your windshield wiper raised during a storm
- Keep your gas tank filled; do not risk having to locate a gas station, and/or pump gas in extreme weather
- If you attend sporting events in the cold, like I once did during a Bears’ playoff, make frequent visits to the restroom to warm your hands on the radiator.
Yes, you can survive and thrive during frigid weather – if you are prepared.