This diary contains some winter weather advice for occupiers. I don’t know how long you’ll be out there, but here’s some cold weather tips from a Wisconsin Badger. This is what we have learned from lumberjacks, deer hunters, ice fisherman and Packer fans. I’ve done a lot of editing on this diary since it was first published to include and credit all the valuable advice from Kossacks in the comment thread.
If you are truly ready to spend an entire day outdoors when it’s below freezing, accept the fact that you will look a bit ridiculous. If you are too tragically hip to be seen in public with a runny nose and ear flaps, stay home.
If you want to know what it takes to survive out on the concrete tundra, go below the fold.
1. Keep your head, neck and ears covered. A wool or fleece hat with ear flaps is best. A stocking cap is ok, but if it gets really cold or windy, you’ll need a hood to cover it.
When it’s really cold, you’ll also need a ski mask and/or a scarf to cover your face. If your coat has a hood or collar that covers your neck, your good to go. Otherwise, wrap up with a scarf or pashmina. Many thanks to a bunch of folks in the comment thread who stressed the importance of keeping your neck warm.
2. Mittens. Not gloves, mittens, with a windproof outer shell or leather choppers. Gloves are OK for a little while, but for a whole day outdoors in sub-freezing weather, I recommend mittens. chimpy pointed us to this link on making a glove work with a touch screen. Thanks chimpy!
3. Layers: Washable briefs and t-shirt with insulated long underwear and wool boot socks on the inside and a warm coat on the outside (a wool or down overcoat, or an insulated trenchcoat, the longer the better.) If your coat has no hood, wear a hoodie or anorak under it to cover your neck and shield the sides of your face. Under your coat, you’ll want a pair of wool pants, sweatpants or long wool skirt below and a long-sleeved sweater, sweatshirt or fleece above. Add a flannel shirt with pockets to hold your cell phone* (see # 8 below).
If you want to stay really warm, ski pants, or a snowmobile suit are better. Insulated coveralls designed for farmers and construction workers are best of all. Go to a thrift store now to find a cheap used parka and some ski pants! Don’t wait for the cold snap.
4. Comfortable, warm boots or shoepacs. No matter how warm the rest of your body is, if your feet are cold, you will be miserable.
5. Fuel: Hot liquids can warm you up quickly, but real food will keep your furnace going. Bring a couple of sandwiches, some nuts or granola and an apple in your pockets or backpack. In cold weather, your resting body burns calories just to stay warm. At the end of the day, you’ll be exhausted. Your metabolism has been humming just to keep your temperature at 98.6. When you warm up, every cell in your body just wants to crash.
6. Concrete sucks the warmth from you. If you will be standing or sitting on concrete for any length of time, bring a piece of foam or thick cardboard to stand on. A foam core kneeler pad or seat cushion is best but a pile of newspaper will do in a pinch. Do not lay down or sleep on concrete. Sleeping is an indoors kind of thing. Spending the night outdoors is hazardous enough. Unless you have the experience and equipment for winter camping, crash indoors.
7. If you are going to enter a building where security doesn’t allow backpacks, bring a piece of clothesline around your waist. Once you are past the security checkpoint, you can bindle up your extra clothing layers in your coat and swing them over your shoulder.
8. Electronics: Plastic parts on keyboards get brittle and need to be handled gently. If you are outside in cold weather and aren’t close to an electrical outlet, your laptop battery is going to croak pretty quickly. Cold kills batteries.
*Keep your cell phone or camera in a layer of clothing close to your body. Ditto for extra batteries.
9. Cold also freezes the ink in your pens and markers. Bring a pencil and use fat kindergarten crayons or china markers to whip up a signs in the great white north.
10. When the wind chill advisory is vicious, go inside.
If you are shivering and no amount of hot food and drink will make it stop, go inside or take a bus ride until it subsides.
If part of your body starts to tingle, ache or feel numb, get inside immediately. Don’t fuck with frostbite. Frostbite hates your nose, it loathes your ears, it despises your fingers and it really, truly hates your feet.
Frostbite loves caffeine and alcohol because they make it easier for Old Frosty to get under your skin. Don’t believe me? Ask a Registered Nurse like Ginny in CO.
11. Keep a wad of kleenex, paper towels or paper napkins handy. Cold makes your eyes water and your nose run. When you get inside your sleeves and mittens will thank you for using a hanky instead.
12. Dehydration, sunburn and windburn will happen in the winter too. Those alpine skiers on TV have sunscreen paste on their noses for a reason. Cold air is dry air and if you’re marching, it is sucking perspiration off you face before you know it. That steam on your breath is water escaping from your body. Keep a bottle or canteen of warm water on a strap or lanyard, close to your body. Tape your extra camera batteries to the strap. Ginny in CO and duckhunter have cautioned us about fluid management and diuretics.
13. The poll at the end of this diary is snark. Alcohol or any other intoxicants can make you do stupid things that will get you hurt and reflect badly on the movement. Booze fools you into thinking you are warm. It’s only practical value to protesters is to kill germs in a water bottle. A tiny 50 ml. (1.69 oz.) bottle of vodka will disinfect about two gallons of water. I only mention it because purification tablets make the water taste weird. Our courage, our satyagraha, doesn’t come from a bottle. It proceeds from the righteousness of our cause.
The soul force you feel when you are standing up with your brothers and sisters will warm you, but take turns standing on the upwind side of the crowd. A jillion penguins can’t be wrong.
I’ll send you on your way with this, from commenter cassandracarolina:
On your way home – if you head home at the end of the day – remember: once you warm up, you can fall asleep very easily. Keep this in mind if you’re driving or if you’re riding a subway or a train. It’s a real safety issue.To everyone out there: stay warm, stay safe, and stay strong!