Don’t Underdress for Extreme Weather
Dressing yourself for extreme weather can get a little tricky. Whether the forecast calls for a polar vortex or a heat wave, being proactive about dressing appropriately can help keep you protected in the long run. Depending on the season, here are a few ways to help prepare you, your family and your wardrobes for extreme elements.
Dressing for Extreme Cold Weather
Whether Jack Frost is bringing subzero temperatures or a blizzard, dressing in loose-fitting layers can be the trick to helping keep you warm and dry if you find yourself outside during extreme winter weather. Think of dressing yourself like an onion — layer upon layer of thin clothing wrapped with a protective layer to help maintain your body temperature. Here are some basics on layering:
- Base layer: Thermal underwear or clothing like runner’s tights can help give you a good base to help your body retain heat. Make sure this layer is made of wicking fabric, which pulls moisture away from your body. This can help you maintain your body heat instead of being cooled off by trapped moisture.
- Warming layer: Consider wearing multiple thin layers of T-shirts, flannel shirts, wool sweaters, fleece pullovers, jeans or other heavy pants to help keep warm, says Ready.gov. Clothing made of cotton or down can be a great option for warmth. But, if you know you’ll be exerting yourself or near snow or water, cotton or down may do a poor job of insulating your body if it becomes wet. Strive to wear water repellent layers when possible, says Ready.gov.
- Protective layer: Winter coats, down vests, insulated gloves and boots, as well as scarves, balaclavas, hats and ear muffs make a good final layer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These items help provide protection not only from the cold itself, but also from the effects of wind chill. Wind blowing across your skin may evaporate the water molecules that collect there, known as convective heat loss, causing your body to potentially lose even more heat, says the CDC. While your body loses heat evenly, according to WebMD, it begins to protect itself by keeping your core warm for survival, restricting blood flow to your hands and feet, which means they may feel even colder and be more at risk for frostbite if you’re not careful.
If you find yourself getting heated when shoveling the snow from your driveway and sidewalk, or throwing snowballs with your kids in your winter gear, consider peeling off some layers to help cool yourself off, according to the Mayo Clinic. Also, be sure to keep extra pairs of gloves and socks handy in your car or home during the winter weather season. Digging out from an unexpected snowstorm while you’re at work or running errands may leave your hands and feet cold and wet, and a change into dry gloves and socks can help give you warm relief and potentially help protect against frostbite, says Read.gov. A blanket stored in your car can also help keep you warm in an emergency. Check out my printable checklist to create your own emergency car kit.
Dressing for Extreme Heat
When hot weather strikes, you may want to take a dip in the pool or hide inside and enjoy the air conditioning. You’ll likely have to deal with the heat at some point, though, so it’s a good idea to know the right ways to dress to stay as cool as possible. Not only do you have to think about trying to help keep your body cooled from the extreme high temperatures, you have the added risk of a sunburn. Here are some suggestions for dressing in the summer weather:
- Clothes: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, according to Ready.gov. This can help you to take advantage of air flow to help evaporate the moisture from your body, which helps to cool you, according to the Consumer Energy Center. Heavier fabrics may insulate you, trapping your body heat instead of letting you cool off naturally. Many types of high-performance sportswear can help make summer fashion a breeze because it helps allow your body to wick away moisture. Also, make sure to avoid dark-colored clothing to reduce absorbing the sun’s rays, says Ready.gov. A short-sleeved shirt may be your first instinct in the summer, but a long-sleeved, lightweight shirt might help protect you from getting a sunburn. If wearing a long-sleeved shirt still makes you overheated, Outdoor Life suggests a bandana that is soaked in water and laid across your neck can help provide a valuable cooling effect for your body. It can also serve as face protection from the sun.
- Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen before stepping outdoors to help protect any exposed areas of your body — and don’t forget to reapply.
- Hat: Wear a hat with a wide brim when outdoors to help protect your face and neck from sunburn.
- Shoes: Choose shoes that are still sturdy enough to help keep you safe when walking yet allow your feet to breathe, which aids in reduced sweating. Flip flops and sandals may be cute and comfortable, but they may not be safe. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), flip flops do not offer a lot in the way of support or protection for your feet either from the sun or what you’re walking on.
- Swimwear: Choose swimwear and/or rash guards made from sun-blocking fabrics, according to the CDC. You may also want to consider water shoes, as they can help protect against slips and falls as well as a sunburn on your feet.
It’s important to take the weather (extreme or not) into consideration as you stand in front of the closet trying to decide what to wear for the day. Don’t get caught being seasonably under- or over-dressed!