Sunday February 21, 2021
(originally slated for Thursday, January 14, 2021)
Winter is one of the more difficult times for man. Unlike other animals, our species didn’t develop a lot of fur and only few of us have hair isolated only to a few key places like our chests, underarms, legs, and nether regions. Most other animals like bears, dogs and other wild animals developed a thick mat of fur to keep them warm and regulate their temperature in the winter as the degrees plunged. Even though we bear a lot of similarities with our monkey and apelike counterparts, we have distinctly less body hair compared to many other primates. Instead we developed large and more detailed brain structures which increased our intelligence and in turn allowed us the creativity and imagination to create tools for our own use even if the tools did not exist at the time.
We probably started off with various versions of ourselves developed from early man ranging from Australopithecus afarensis, Homo habilis and Cro-Magnan man to Neatherthals and eventually to modern man. In order to survive harsh climates and weather conditions we had to be able to harness a few key things over the centuries: making fire, cooking, using tool, and making clothes.
This week as the temperatures plunged and there was a blast of cold and snow throughout most of the regions in the U.S. and in many regions such as Texas they were caught without power and heat in many areas. It reminds us that in these times one can never be too prepared for the unexpected. In early times humans probably used furs and coats from animals and gradually developed other methods such as knitting and crocheting to weave wool as well as extracting fibers from cotton. Over time we also developed other synthetic alternatives such as acrylics, polyesters, nylon and also new fibers of rayon and lycra.
It’s a good idea to do a little research before you purchase clothes in the winter and also consider the seasons. Often it’s not a bad idea to have multiples and different types of clothing and methods for either staying warm or keeping cool depending on the seasons.
Quite simply a lot of the best materials advised include:
- Wools and acrylics for keeping warm.
- Polyesters and synthetics as a base layer
- And then lastly your other wearable fabrics like nylons as outershells depending on rain conditions.
There are various new technologies and microfibers and GoreTex and 3M Thinsulate materials to help insulate you from the cold and even though you may think you can go out in the cold without these, your body will probably not be quite so forgiving. You may not realize the short term discomfort and cumulative long term injuries in the winter season. Something as simple as double layering socks when going out in the snow can prevent wetness getting to your base layer of skin and discomfort or athlete’s foot. You can also prevent your feet from getting sore and chilly and achy later if you don’t have boots.
Generally the outer layers should still be breathable but offer some protection from the elements. Why nylon is sometimes used in certain clothing it tends to trap moisture and your body can get uncomfortable and sweaty and sticky if that’s what your fabric is mostly made of. For example nylon socks can be very comfortable and smooth and often wrinkle free but at the cost of some breathability issues.
A blend of fibers is the best and sometimes some blends like rayon and polyester and cottons can offer comfort and wicking properties to keep moisture away from your body as this moisture can make you feel clamy and feel cooler in the winter than you want to. It’s recommended to put on several layers in the winter than one big oversized coat and nothing underneath and then you have no way to relieve the temperature issues if you should need to take it off.
Remember that each person has their own ideal temperature and not everyone will feel the same with the same clothing on. I remember growing up parents often nagged about putting on coats and bundling up blankets and can appreciate that somewhat, but it’s also important to not overdo it as it can make certain people feel stuffy and nauseous depending on humidity especially for motion sickness-prone kids.
We heard a story on the news about some people gathering snow to flush toilets and use for drinking water and also about some people that had unfortunately not know about the effects of carbon monoxide when running cars in their garages to stay warm, or using open heating elements in a house and potentially causing house fires. It’s important to stay safe and have extra supplies and layers and backups before going into winter. That includes filling up gas tanks before a storm hits, having extra bottles of water and flashlights and non-perishable foods. And to have good people and neighbors nearby to help one another out.
Spring is around the corner even though in most places there’s been a record of several inches of snow this year. At least there are no bugs and summer heat issues at this time. Remember that it’s a good time to review survival and preparation kits every year before the season changes. We mentioned having a calendar at the beginning of the year and every year as the seasons start getting chilly, it’s not a bad idea to ask yourself if you have all your necessary prep, lawn work, check your pipes and heat before going into the dead of winter. Get your car and furnaces and everything checked out. By the time you’re in the middle of an emergency it’s too late.
Please be safe out there.