Lifehacks for surviving a UConn winter

Two students brave the cold weather that is UConn in winter and walk to class. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

Winter has arrived, mostly in the form of snowfall and that wonderful, icy, sleety wind currently biting into your face as you try to make it to class. Hey, our mascot isn’t a husky for nothin’.

While holing up in your dorm and hibernating until April is certainly an option, your social life (and grades) will probably suffer for it. So here are a few tips for surviving the cold, harsh winter like the tough tundra bear you are.

Layers, layers layers

This is a key factor in any sort of insulation, and in staying comfortable both inside and outside. Sure, you could just throw on a puffy parka, but what if you start feeling too hot? If you unzip it and have only a light shirt underneath, you’re stuck choosing between freezing or sweating to death. So, layer it up! For the coldest days, I recommend an undershirt or tank top, a shirt over that, a light-to-medium sweater and then a jacket on top. Leggings, yoga pants or sweatpants underneath a pair of jeans will keep your legs from freezing.

Protect your face!

A good thick scarf or balaclava can protect your ears, cheeks and nose from frostbite. Earmuffs can be a good extra layer of insulation. Lab goggles, ski goggles or even sunglasses can help protect your eyes from sleet and wind (extra points if they’re shaded, since they help protect you from snow blindness.) While the whole ‘losing 80% of heat through your head’ thing is a myth, wear a hat. You’d be surprised how cold your scalp can get. Finally, sunscreen up. Sun can reflect off the snow and give you a lovely orange tan if you aren't careful.

Gloves are a must

Forget thinking you can just keep your hands in your pockets on the way to class. Metal door handles become stupid cold after a while, and you never know if you have to stay outside for long, need use your phone or if you get into an impromptu snowball fight. Waterproof gloves, in my opinion, are better than wool or cloth gloves since they don’t get wet and cold. Fingerless gloves are also an option if you need to text, though nowadays you can get special texting gloves.

Footwear is key

Those UGGs and sneakers aren’t gonna cut it. Wellingtons may keep you dry, but they offer little insulation. Get yourself a good pair of waterproof snow boots-- preferably over ankle-length, because nobody likes stepping through a snowdrift and getting a boot full of icewater. Don’t go cheap on this. Leaky boots are wasted money and make your day even more miserable. If they’re leather boots, clean and polish them regularly. Also, good thick socks are a must (Hamilton prints are optional.)

Keep supplies near

Always have emergency supplies in your backpack. This includes instant hand-warmers, an extra pair of gloves or socks in case yours get soaked, a backup phone charger if you get stranded and a granola bar or preservable snack. For you commuters, keep a snow shovel, a blanket, an emergency light, some sand or cat litter (for traction), a spare tire, scrapers, a repair kit and a first aid kit in your car at all times. As well, keep instant foods such as Ramen or Kraft in your dorm in case the weather is too gross outside to go to a dining hall.

Know the signs of frostbite

When you’ve been outside too long with exposed extremities, you stand a risk of this. If you experience stuff muscles, bluish or whitish skin that does not regain its color, hard or waxy skin or numbness/lack of feeling, get inside immediately. Using warm water (NOT hot) soak the affected limb until feeling returns. If you see black areas on your skin or if feeling does not return within 20 minutes, see a doctor straight away.

Plan your trips

When I say this, I mean that you should account for the massive drifts of snow that are currently blocking off your favorite shortcuts (which is to say, anywhere there’s grass) and that you should try and cut through as many buildings as possible. While this means you’ll have to leave for class a bit earlier, it also means that you won’t get there feeling like an icicle.

Hydrate!

It’s super dry during the winter, both because all the moisture in the air has frozen and because the heaters in the buildings tend to suck away all the water. Combat this by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids (keepa water bottle on you at all times) and applying moisturizer. Chapstick as well will protect your lips.  

With these tips, I hope you stay warm and safe this winter season, Huskies. Oh, and one more piece of advice: watch where you’re going if you’re sledding down Horsebarn Hill in a canoe, lest you become a YouTube sensation.


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.