3 Tips For Working Outside In The Cold

5.00 out of 5 [2 Votes]

As you start to live more sustainably you will be spending more time outdoors. And in the winter it can be tough. Getting or cutting firewood, tending livestock, taking care of the orchards or greenhouse – all of these activities means you’ll be getting outside in the cold.

Here are my three best tips for staying warm and toasty during the winter months.

1) Wrap that neck! Your neck radiates more heat than any other area. The head and feet are next on the list, but really the neck is the most important. In my backpack (which serves as a purse) I’ve used the neck wrap I keep in there more times than I can count to keep me warm during that sudden cold front that sweeps in.

You know when you start to get that scratchy throat and start feeling just the edges of a cold or flu coming on? I will wrap my neck at night while I sleep and have found it seems to nip that sore throat in the bud. I am no doctor, but my theory is that wrapping my neck creates a mini fever in the area, which stops trouble before it can spread.  (Also, check out this article on treating fevers – and when not to.  The comments section on this particular article where the contributed your experiences is especially amazing click here to read).

2) Stay hydrated. For some reason it seems harder to drink enough fluids when it is cold. But of the many signs of dehydration, getting a bit chilled is usually one of the first. (Some other signs are dry lips, dizziness when standing, and slower mental functioning). I find that making a quart of tea to sip on (from a mason jar) in the morning and then in the afternoon, helps me to drink more and keep track of how much I am drinking during the day. I find my body hydrates better with a tea versus straight water. The Grandmothers were always drinking herbal teas that were nutritive and tonics. Good health is best achieved with gentle nudges and sipping tea is a great way to help the process. Wildcrafting or growing your own teas is so easy and I’ll write about it in a future article.

3) Have a warm place to go. I picked this tip up when I got my permaculture certification more than a decade ago. It is a lot easier to go out and face the cold if you have a warm place to come back to. It doesn’t have to be a large room, or the whole house. But knowing that when you come back in there will be somewhere warm gives you a psychological boost that I’ve relied on so many years I don’t think about going out without setting this up first. Before you dress up and head out throw a few logs on the fire and set flue so you’ll have a warm spot to come back to. If you are not heating with wood, perhaps you might run a tiny heater in a small room to have a ‘warm area’ to return to. It might as simple as the greenhouse that you setup and keep warm. But knowing you have a warm spot to come back to after working outside in the cold is vitally important. And you never know. If you have an accident outside, having a warm space to work is case of emergency may be crucial to your survival.

3 Tips For Working Outside In The Cold

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33 Comments on 3 Tips For Working Outside In The Cold

  1. Gene Goodine

    Good information Marjory because we are actually trending into a cooling cycle here in North America contrary to what the “global warming/ climate change ” crowd tries to imply.
    The newer, ever changing, vague term “climate change” is a term used to manipulate and control mankind.
    Stay Warm, Gene

  2. lonestarbugout

    I fully concur with hydrating with teas. I personally avoid caffinated teas for hydration purposes. My personal favorite is jiaogulan. It is a powerful afaptogen and has many health benefits. I the summer I make an ice tea and winter hot tea in a thermos for extra cool days. Cheers everyone and drink up!

    • Jess

      A couple summers ago, I attended a Zen Festival in northern Kansas, where the daytime temps reached 108-110. I am very pale, burn easily, and don’t handle heat well, and all I had to cool myself at this powerless campsite was a small handheld fan and a strip of cloth around my neck with ice in it. So I decided to make a chilled herbal tea, and wow did it work wonders. I used hibiscus and peppermint, which have cooling effects, and angelica root, which helps the body handle extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold. I had a large bottle of it that I carried around, and it kept me hydrated, as well as providing some amazing assistance to staying cool. Highly recommend it, but I should add that I am not a certified herbalist. Just an herbalist. :)
      I should also add that I did not seek relief from a car’s a/c during the day, as many of my friends did. I discovered that doing so only made the heat more unbearable, and weakened my body’s ability to adjust. If the Amish can make it all day without a/c, I decided I could too, lol. Going back and forth between extreme temperatures like that can actually make you very ill.
      Marjory, love your tips and love your site! I found you by way of the Survival Summit, and I am very glad I did. :)

      • Hi Jess,

        Well, welcome to the community. We are working very hard to make this the most useful site on the web for individual and family food self-reliance.

        BTW, I had always heard that drinking hot tea on a hot day helped you hand;e the temps better. I tried it a few times, but couldn’t get myself to drink it – LOL.

        One summer I got the crazy idea to have a sweat lodge and somehow managed to convince a bunch of friends into doing it too. The outside temps were Texas August usual at about 105. So this was really, like insanity (I do have good friends!). It was hotter than hell, but after the four rounds of sweating and going in an out – heck the rest of the summer seems downright cool. So we might have been onto something.

      • Beth Oquist

        Thanks, Jess! I don’t do well with the heat, either. Your suggestions sound great and I’m preparing to give them a try next time it gets hot. And thanks for the “heads up” on Angelica. I used to work on a farm that grew it and wondered about its uses.

  3. Stella Stone

    I thought I was writing to Marjory, but Saving Star replied to me.

    Marjory, I wanted to let you know that lemon juice in a spray bottle used 4-6 times a day and at night whenever you get up will cut a sore throat. You can use bottled lemon juice and keep it in the refrigerator. I have stopped a sore throat many a time with this.

  4. Max

    Buy bulk cayenne pepper powder then load it into empty vitamin type capsules. It will warm your insides without damage. You can rub it onto your feet before donning socks. It will warm your feet.

      • Barbara

        I listened to a You Tube video about the cayenne pepper. She said she mixed 1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne powder with a quarter size amount of any lotion then rubbed it onto the bottom of her feet and the palms of her hands and covered with socks and gloves. She said it helped her stay warm while working as a security guard at night.

  5. cody

    Great article.

    I find acclimatizing myself to the weather helps, having worked on the tools in north and central Alberta during all the seasons out and indoors (including 14 hour days in -35 celsius weather for weeks at a time), I’ve found that despite the cold my body would eventually adapt to the climate, my metabolism would speed up and my wife would tell me that sleeping next to me would be like sleeping next to a furnace. Actually sometimes I would sleep with only a sheet or one blanket on in the winter.

    Point is, get outside and shovel snow for a couple hours in the cold weather or do some hard work outside in the bad weather, the fresh air will help keep that cold away, and your body will adjust and become more resilient. Same thing goes for the summer, spend some time in the steam sauna over a couple weeks before the heat wave hits and you wont be melting in the heat, plus sweating is a good natural detoxification.

    Thanks for the article Marjory!

  6. Marjory,

    I love your emails. They are so pratical, loving and straingt from the heart. Stuff I can use!

    I love in So Cal, so our brand of cold isn’t the same as what most others have to endure. (I have overewintered bell and chili pepper plants still producing after 3-4 years) But it does get cold and dry here.

    I usually make sure I moisturize my legs (which can get seriously cracked) then start layering into exercise or yopa pants covered with either jeans or sweats to work in the garden. And Layered tops like tanks, with a long sleeved T or thin sweater and peel off as necessary as the weather heats.

    I also brew a pot of tea in a cast iron pot that stays warm for an hour and refill my cup(s) as needed.

    Your tip about the scarf keeping your neck warm at the first hint of a sore throat is ingenious. I just wonder about choking while unconsciously tossing and turning at night as I tend to move a bit and fear getting caught on the wrap around my neck. Maybe a turtleneck in that case?

    Thank you for all you do Marjory, I get many email blogs, but yours if on I pay attention to. Hugs!

    • Jess

      I toss and turn a great deal myself, Stefanie. I would be concerned about the very same thing! A turtleneck is a great idea, but you could also probably tuck the ends of the scarf into your shirt, if you wear one, or tie them together so they make less of a threat, lol.

      Love that you brew tea in a cast iron pot! I need to get myself one!

  7. Steven Feil

    What part radiates the most heat depends on how covered it is. I know for a FACT that my balding head is where most of MY heat radiates!!!! I will try just wrapping my neck the next time I am chilled to compare results though.

  8. Alice

    I find that finger-less gloves are really helpful too. Even if you need the dexterity that only fingers can provide, keep the rest of your hand warm. I took regular garden gloves and cut the tips off.

  9. Sharon

    I make my tea really hot and breathe in the vapors till it is cool enough to sip. I hold some tea at the back of the throat before swallowing to heat that up. Sometime in my distant past I learned that the cold/flu virus likes the cooler throat and chest so keep them warm.
    I never thought about wearing a scarf to bed, guess snuggling deep under the covers works well too. Those sore throats never last long.

  10. d'craigtheodore - d'13

    Greetings Girls!
    Oops Ladies!
    So today it’s about staying warm. Ok here goes; since the massive amounts of 3 typed of radiation to my neck and throat in between the 16th of April 2010 and 28 August of that same year, I don’t do cold well at all.
    In fact if the temp drops below 50° it is time for a turtle-neck or faux turtle neck and a scarf otherwise it feels as though someone is strangling me.
    I too sip on tea [though alas I’m not in a position to grow my own at the moment] for the majority of the waking hours. Have for years anyway about 3 quarts a day along with bottle of water for the supplements and meds as needed with the couple of cups of coffee [dark water as it is always brewed quite weak].
    But I find that the best ways should include layering of the garments under the jeans such as spandex tights with two [sometimes three] pairs of socks and either Thermals or sweats as the final garment before the jeans then a sleeved pocked T-Shirt and a Turtle-neck [Faux as it’s hard to find them in the men’s departments] and a flannel shirt before the filled vest that is topped with a good jacket of either leather [I have an old Bombers jacket] or Denim as liken to the old Levi’s type with the flannel lining. Mmmm toasty. A pair of knit gloves then the ol proverbial leather gloves.
    Now for regular times it’s Lulu [my 2.3 lb] l’ Chihuahua girl tucked inside either the Flannel shirt or the vest. Tuffy rides to the right side in the truck so I’m surrounded by and with pure unadulterated love.
    Bed time for either a nap or a recoup session or a nights repose is usually a thing with the Lulu proverbial snuggler!
    Well I used to snuggle with Michele Ann the wife of my youth but somewhere along the way she got off the yellow brick road and ended up in the land of oz [Sacramento]. Twas a lonely life for the most part until JohnHenry adopted me [my first Chihuahua] then when he was abducted the sadness was immense until one day a lifelong friend phoned as said she was a home where they had to get rid of all their dogs [Chihuahua] puppies and there was a male there that I’d like but that she recommended the little [runt] girl as she needed the love and no one wanted her because she wasn’t party coloured dog sort of a washed out white.
    When I arrived an hour later they had all been taken but the girl no one wanted. Ah Enter Tinkerbelle into my life! Was no bigger than a long pack of cigarettes! Tiny little thing!!! So I put her in the T- shirt pocket and sped away to the Swem residence out in Caruthers to show Naomi and Brenda what and who stole my heart. Miss Tinker!
    The Tink would grace my life for the next 19 years went everywhere with me always in my shirt on the left side. Never met anyone that took offense even in the congregational meetings and gatherings. Save one day at the Shreveport, LA VA medical center. Then she couldn’t go with me there any longer. It wore on her when I was gone in the hospital for all those months of radiation and it was tough cus she was already a senior citizen as Lady Dogs go.
    Then 13 months later along came Lulu! Yeee Ha! Looks just like The Tink just about 4oz heavier but just the lady all the same. She jumped out of the gals arms [she was 3 months old] and came scampering over and took a seat on my boot!
    The gal said ‘I guess she chooses you, you can take her with you if you want as we are getting rid of everything here and moving back to Arkansas’. Needless to say I was shocked amazed and filled with joy! Heck yeah I’ll keep her!
    Took two hours to bathe her and get the horrendous amount of fleas and such off of her and give her the Hollywood Shampoo set Paws and Claws with the Foo Foo and the new Necklace and jewelry.
    Been with me ever since!
    Anyway I trust you will forgive me my long and somewhat boring tale of how I stay warm.
    Here’s to you two Ladies and all the good you are doing!
    Always – Love Honor & Respect!
    d’13

    • You know, my daughter still sleeps with us occasionally – and I love being surrounded by her and my husband. Makes for a very warm night. Kids throw off a lot of heat. I suppose it is the same with small dogs.

      And isn’t there something to that saying “three dog night”?

  11. Gene Cramer, Shawnee, KS

    Hi Marjory,
    Good job!
    If you can still get old fashioned Vicks Vapor Rub, smear it on your neck under your ear lobes to under your chin and jaw bone around to the other ear lobe. Then wrap a large sweat sock around your neck and use a large safety pin to secure it. The sock holds in the heat as you just noted and it keeps the stinky vicks from spreading everywhere. I call it “the magic sock routine”. I can go to bed with a sore throat and wake up feeling normal.I take a shower to wash of the stinky vicks and start my day.
    Also to keep warm I wear a very thin material, snug fitting tea shirt made of 80% cotton and 20% polyester. The snug fit keeps my ribs warm.
    I hope this helps because it works for me.
    PS- I wish they would go back to the original formula for Vicks Vapor Rub. The current product does not smell as strong as I remember. I wish the same for LAVA bar soap. I called W-D 40 who owns LAVA and asked them to put the original scent and amount of “sand” back in the soap, but no help.
    And, Marjory, order some 4th of July tomatoes or seeds from Burpee seed co. They are the best tasting and prolific producers thru the heat clear to frost. And you will get ripe tomatoes before the 4th of July as their name says.
    And, Marjory, did you read the book “How to Grow Record Breaking Tomatoes”? Do it. Or let me know and I will send you some excerpts from it.
    TTYL,
    Gene Cramer, Shawnee, Kansas

    • Hey Gene,

      its funny you mentioned Burpee. I haven’t used their seeds much over the years – not totally sure why. But I’ll be publishing and article written by George Ball, CEO and owner of Burpee uh, next week. While doing more research on Burpee, I realize that my vague unfounded concern for that company is probably unfounded. I might interview him to lay aside any mus-conceptions about the company.

  12. AndrewinNH

    Calories- at a recent wilderness 1st aid class, the instructor said he never saw a case of hypothermia in one with sufficient nutrition. He also advised a snack if you are freezing whether out and about, staying still, or in your sleeping bag. He also said that it is a myth that urinating before bed will keep you warmer, though you would feel more comfortable.

    Consume plenty micro nutrients and ensure you are getting enough vitamins – they support metabolism and temperature regulation. The Standard American Diet is devoid of micronutrients. I recall Marjory mentioned that her tolerance for cold went up when she started growing her own food.

    For Macronutrients, eat plenty of healthy saturated fats. Packets of Coconut oil/ Coconut butter are great! Approximately 70% of calories from healthy fats is considered optimal. Eat real foods; stay away from garbage!

    For a cold- 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 (not D2) immediately at the first hint of symptoms for 3 days. Take with Vitamins A and K rich foods. Test your blood. I try to keep my Vitamin D3 levels between 70-90.

    • Oh andres,

      Yes. I’ve come to realize that my Jan. / Feb. bout with sinus congestion is most directly related to low vitamin D levels. I’ve been meaning to write about it.

      Wow, 50,000 IU’s is a lot…. My levels tested quite low (around 30) and that was in the summer so probably lower now. I am currently taking 2x 5,000 IU’s. Getting from sunlight is best, but not possible until late Feb. early March. I really need to get Dr. Mercola’s excellent video up on how to tell the suns angle for maximum vitamin D absorption.

  13. Alan

    I get real living vitamins and so much more from the Kombucha I make and drink. Those pills you can buy are dead manufactured wanna-be vitamins. Here in Michigan my whole life I will put on a light jacket at 50F only if the sun isn’t shining.
    Really google Kombucha and go to kombuchakamp dot com and click on BENEFITS. Then click on NEW START HERE and sign up.
    I do not get colds or the flu like I used to get every single one.

  14. Alan

    A great hint for head and neck protection is found at a place that sells protection for construction workers. Up here in Michigan anyway.
    It is a Winter liner for a hard hat. I have two of them from back when I was working for one of those big companies that required hard hats.
    One is light duty and one is super warm duty. They cover your head and have a lower part that wraps around your neck and snaps in the front.
    Makes me feel all warm and toasty just thinking about them.

  15. Beth

    Herbal teas, yes! Especially ginger tea. I heaping tablespoon in a quart of boiling water. Let simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. To each cup add the juice of 1/4 of a lemon or lime and honey or agave to taste. Is also great for colds and flus.

    I discovered something just this winter. I have trouble keeping my extremities warm. If I go back inside for a few minutes after working outside for about 10 or 20 minutes, then when I go back outside I my nose, toes, and fingers stay warm for quite a while. I suspect that working or walking is a necessary part of this equation but I don’t know for sure.

  16. Bruce

    Another thing to keep in mind is the body is constantly trying to find equilibrium. Water conducts energy/heat away from the body, so urinating will help warm a body up. I notice when I work, I heat up, my body calls for water, but when there is a delay and my body starts to cool off, I’ll have to urinate. This can be an indication that I don’t have enough layers on. This really doesn’t matter unless one is rationing water. I hope this made sense, if not, then I’ve just exposed myself as a person who not only works, but pees. Yee Haw!