Cold weather clothing myths

Weather Stories

With us in the midst of our coldest temperatures of the season so far, you may be tempted to put on multiple layers of clothing before you go outside and brave the cold. We have all heard different things about dressing in the cold, but not all of those are necessarily true.

For one thing, while the temperature is important, the wind chill is more important as it gets colder. The wind chill takes into account wind speed and is the temperature your exposed skin feels when outside. Wind moves the heat your body generates away from you body, making it feel even colder than the air temperature. Limiting the amount of exposed skin is one of the first steps to making sure you will stay warm as you venture outside.

You have probably also heard that you lose most of your body heat through your head. This is also not entirely true. How thick your hair is and how active you are play a role into how much heat is lost. Children do lose more heat through their head, so making sure they have a hat or hood is important.

Dressing in layers has been told to almost everyone as a way to stay warm, but this is also not entirely true. It is the material of the clothing that makes a difference. Clothing that is breathable will not stop the cold air from making it to your body. Dressing in layers only really matters for those who are exercising outside, where you also need to lose some of that sweat you are accumulating. We spoke with a safety coordinator at a construction site in Raleigh who explains personal comfortable also plays a vital role in staying warm.

“They typically try to dress in layers,” said Antonio Cooper, site safety coordinator for Clancy & Theys. “They do have recommendations for how to dress out on site, so those guys, they follow their best techniques. Like I said, everyone is a little different.”

So best practices, wear a solid outer layer that is not breathable and keeps your own body heat against you. A hat can help you stay warm, but going without one won’t end in a cold (sorry, mom!). Also, keep exposed skin to a minimum, especially when the wind chill is very cold.

Don’t forget about your pets! Wind chill can threaten them just like humans, so don’t get your dogs shaved close to the skin in winter. Bathe them as little as possible during cold snaps too as washing them excessively gets rid of necessary oils in their coats. Giving your four-legged friends a little extra food also doesn’t hurt as they burn more calories staying warm. And while some pet sweaters are funny, short-coat animals will feel much warmer with that pet sweater or jacket than without.

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