Beauty and the Beast. Winter snows can certainly be beautiful but getting to work can occasionally be brutal. Case in point: Cleveland Plain Dealer front page from Friday, January 27, 1978. B-r-r-r-r-r-r.
As you know, heat management is something we take very serious here at KHT. And with the weather starting to shift, and the cold northern air and snow moving in, we thought it would be good to share some cold weather tips – and it all starts with paying attention to the science of, you guessed it, heat transfer.
Experts say the secret to staying warm requires the basic understanding of two key principles: conduction and convection. Conduction is the transfer of heat between two solid surfaces that are in direct contact with one another. If you’ve ever stood on a cold surface, such as icy pavement or a frozen pond, you’ve experienced conduction. Convection is the transfer of heat between a mass, such as your body against a moving fluid or gas, such as an icy winter wind that whips around you when outside. Understanding these two temperature impacting mechanisms and the workings of your body’s built in thermoregulatory system will help keep you warm and safe when the next polar vortex comes roaring into town.
Layer Up – You’ve probably heard this tip for years, but often don’t do it right. Sitting on a chilly bench or walking outdoors in the wind steals your body heat. A good base layer (think long underwear and thick, wool socks) keeps you from losing heat through conduction. Wearing an external, wind- and water-proof but breathable layer will protect you from heat loss though convection. And keep dry, as any moisture that can penetrate your feet or body parts will impact heat loss.
Stop the Shivering – Think of shivering as a warning sign that you need to get yourself someplace warmer, fast. When your skin temperature drops, shivering kicks in to keep your core temperature from falling, too. The spasmodic contracting and relaxing of your muscles consumes calories, and generates heat to replace the heat your body is losing. Once you start shivering your brain is telling your body it’s time to get to a warmer place.
Stoke the Furnace – Furnace management is a big part of what we do here. And as most of you know, the gang at KHT loves to eat. Being well fed and consuming more calories than you’re burning will actually help your body handle the cold better. Keeping your blood sugar up and staying hydrated may be just enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm.
Be Prepared – Heed weather warnings, and fill your car with water bottles, calorie-dense foods, warm blankets, extra gloves and an extra set of dry clothes…just in case. Make up a bag and store it in the back seat or trunk. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 25 percent of winter-related fatalities occur when people are caught unprepared out in a storm.
Skip the Booze – Enjoy Hot Chocolate – Sure, a brandy-laced “hot toddy” or a shot of schnapps sounds like just the thing to keep you warm on a bitter day. While a warm beverage will indeed raise your core temperature and help you withstand a chill, don’t spike it. Alcohol is absolutely the worst thing that somebody could consume if they are already cold.
Be Smart – Probably goes without saying, but when the thermometer really drops just stay inside. Make a fire, and spend quality time with the kids and loved ones. Like all storms, they pass, and when the temp settles back to normal, and the wind subsides, take a nice walk and enjoy the beauty of winter.