Reports indicate that this winter will be particularly cold for most of Canada. Wearing the appropriate clothing, for children at play as well as adults, can be a first line of defense against hypothermia, frostbite and other cold-related injuries.
Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba — a.k.a. “Professor Popsicle” — is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the body’s response to cold. The celebrated hypothermia expert recommends a layering strategy similar to dressing like an onion.
Inner layer. The layer closest to the skin (this includes underwear) should draw or wick moisture or sweat away from your body to help keep you dry. Keeping dry is critical to keeping warm. Fabrics like wool and polyester are recommended instead of cotton, which actually absorbs and holds water and takes a long time to dry.
Middle layers. These layers hold the heat and provide insulation. Look for wool, or fleece and other synthetic fibres.
Outer layer. The outer layer or protective shell should be wind resistant and repel water to protect the insulating layers. It includes both jacket and pants.
When choosing a jacket, Dr. Giesbrecht recommends a parka or other outer garment with an insulated hood and a high collar that zips up to the top of the collar. Sleeve ends and cuffs should be elasticated, and mitts should fit easily and fully inside or over the sleeve. The jacket should be longer so it overlaps the pants. This minimizes heat loss at the waist.
Don’t forget your hands and feet. Mitts are warmer than gloves, and a thin glove made of wool, silk or nylon next to the skin will help if mitts need to be removed to handle clothing or equipment. Winter boots with good insulation are important.