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Tips for Surviving a Minnesota Winter

Are you heading to Minnesota anytime soon? If so, there are a few things you should know about a Minnesota winter: They are long and cold and definitely memorable. It’s true that people who live here make the most of their cold months by hitting the outdoors for skiing, sledding, hockey ice skating and the indoor Mall of America. But it you’re coming for a visit, there are a few tips you should know before packing your bags.

Today we have Denver-based journalist and blogger Jason Hussong offering our readers tips on surviving those bone-chilling temperatures.  Jason grew up in Minnesota and was recently back in the Twin Cities for a visit. He knows first-hand what to expect. He’s been coaching me during our move to Minnesota from toasty Arizona. He offers such valuable advice, I asked if he would share some tips with our readers and he kindly agreed.

Here are Jason’s tips for surviving a Minnesota winter:

Dress smart and in layers. First off, make sure to monitor the weather reports during the colder months. Sometimes there are freeze advisories. The first type of advisory would be where you’d have to make sure every single spot on your body was covered when you go outside or you’ll instantly get frost bite. This doesn’t happen too often in the Cities, generally more up north, but it can happen. My first winter visiting back home after moving to Denver I remember it was somewhere around -80 with wind chill. That was a bit of a freak incident, but it can happen and you need to be very careful.

In regards to the layers, a layer of heat is trapped in between each layer of clothing and thus helping to keep you warmer. You’re going to want to start out with a small layer, for instance long underwear over regular underwear, to keep your body warm. From there, say it’s a casual day, you’d could wear a t-shirt and then a sweatshirt along with a coat. So there you’d have five layers total on helping keep the heat in…undies, long undies, tshirt, sweatshirt and then a coat. Wool and silk are the best types of fabric to keep heat in.

For the feet. Wear regular little anklet socks along with wool socks on top and then your boots. These should be waterproof as well so you don’t get wet tootsies.

For the hands. Wear thin gloves, like a golf or batting glove style, and then mittens. Unless it’s a warmer day, above zero, NEVER wear regular gloves. If it’s really cold out and you go outside you should always, always, always wear mittens. Mittens help keep the heat in better since you have four fingers, as the thumb is detached, in one pocket opposed to five separate holes for the digits. And if you have  thin glove on under those, that always helps with things too…especially if you need to take off the mitten for any reason.

For the head. The majority of heat lost from your body will be from your head. Think of those football guys sitting outside with the steaming heads at the games in the winter. They’re losing heat. You need to make sure to have a good, thick wool stocking cap or took, the ones with the ear flaps, for when you go out. You never want to just wear ear muffs outside since that does nothing but keep your ears from going numb. Of course, it’s not bad to have them, too.

Great tip: Don’t drink any hot drinks unless you’re coming in to stay. People drink hot chocolate outside all of the time, but I read and learned as a kid that if you drink colder drinks then your body acclimates to the cold temps better. But, it’s always good to have some cocoa if you’re coming in for the day from being outside.

Keep in mind, these aren’t for regular, everyday winter temperatures. But the farmer’s almanac is predicting a cold winter this year, which means it could be a bad one up there.

Thanks, Jason. And so far, it looks like the almanac is right now. Your tips have certainly helped my family and I hope they’ve helped out readers.

Readers, do you have winter tips you would like to share? Leave a comment below – we’d love to hear them.

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12 Responses to “Tips for Surviving a Minnesota Winter”

  1. 1
    Jody says:

    Those are great tips- even if you’re not so far north as Minnesota! The only thing I would add is: forget fashion! You may look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a pair of snow pants and down jacket but you’ll be a WARM Dough Boy. Save the style for indoors!

  2. 2
    SoCalGal says:

    Man, I got cold just reading this! :)

  3. 3

    Be alert for ice when on foot.

    I learned this the hard way in Holland while walking up a sidewalk I had used hundreds of times during the fall. Fortunately, the worst that happened was some children stifling their giggles as I got up and dusted myself off.

  4. 4

    One more – don’t go jogging when it’s below freezing! It’s really hard on your lungs.
    Always amzes me how many people do this…

  5. 5
    jessiev says:

    when we lived in MN, we were inside a LOT. when it gets -50, that’s just too much for me. still, i remember lots of great hints from friends – when it is really cold, go outside every few hours and start your car. or, get a heater for your engine block. it helps!!

    i love MN. so much to do – excellent intercultural opportunities in the cities…WHOO!! yay you, for moving there!

  6. 6
    Ted Nelson says:

    I have lived in cold weather all my life, but I still learned new information from reading this sound advice.

  7. 7
    Jason Hussong says:

    Sound advice? Thanks, Ted! I think the best advice probably comes from a freind of mine who told me that it’s smarter to move somewhere warmer. Personally, I love the cold weather and feel alive with the change of seasons. Colorado, where I live now, is great for that too, albeit with a little less bite!

  8. 8
    Linda says:

    These are great suggestions, right on the money.

    Jody’s comment about ignoring fashion is good as well. Trying to look like a fashionista or the “tough” one who can brave the cold is simply foolish in frigid temps.

  9. 9

    Great tips!! I mean we don’t have nearly the same weather in Minnesota but this year is way too cold for me in Atlanta. I guess I need to go look for a mitten & hat for myself. :)

  10. 10
    EmLue says:

    I live in MN – great tips. If it’s not to cold out (0 degrees F or above) and you’re going on, say, an hour walk, leggings under jeans work nicely(and a coat. and gloves. and a hat. and boots.). Then again, maybe if you’re not used to the cold you’ll still feel like you’re going to die. Never underestimate the wind, and if you’re in a car always have blankets and water with you. Also remember if you’re stomping around in snow up to your knees, you’re going to get warm from the physical activity pretty quick, so dress in REMOVABLE layers.

  11. 11
    Sarah says:

    I frostbit some of my toes in Minnesota when I was a kid. I was out playing in dressy boots. NEVER AGAIN!. My poor toes survived but have never been the same. Wear felt pacs. Just do it! Don’t buy fashion boots for your kids and don’t scrimp on really warm clothing. I dress in pacs, really awesome hand spun wool hats, arctic parkas and all the rest now. I’m not ashamed to wear insulated pants either. Yes, I’m still a babe in my arctic clothes and I’m a smart babe and a warm one too!

  12. 12
    outlet says:

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