Winter Weather Survival

Winter in St. Louis: A Survival Guide

November was unseasonably cold, allowing the local ski resort to open early.  December featured one of the worst ice storms the area has ever seen.  The forecast for the third weekend in January—often one of the coldest months—a high of 66 F (19 C).  Welcome to St. Louis!

If you live in St. Louis, you certainly never know what the forecast will bring, but we do know that the winter weather will return.  Here are some ways to survive (and thrive) a St. Louis winter.

Stay Healthy

Wash Your Hands Regularly: The winter months are generally higher risk for cold and flu viruses, so wash your hands regularly to prevent picking up an infection.

Mental Health: The winter months also bring on some health risks that may be less of an issue during the rest of the year. Decreased light exposure due to shorter daylight hours and cloudy weather can bring on a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Symptoms can range from mild to severe depression. In order to maintain your mood during the winter months, it’s helpful to exercise regularly, eat well, get sufficient sleep, and try to remain positive and be social. However, if you think you may be suffering from seasonal depression, don’t hesitate to contact the Habif Health and Wellness Center for help.

Protect Your Skin: The cold, dry air can also have a more direct and immediate effect on the body, causing dry, chapped skin (especially on the face, lips, and hands), and increasing the risk of dehydration. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Skin can be protected (or dry skin can be treated) with hydrating lotions or petroleum jelly, and lips can be protected with lip balm.

Stay Warm

Dress in Layers: When it comes to dressing for cold weather, layering is key. You may feel comfortable as you walk out the door, but if you are exercising or doing a lot of walking, you may start to feel too hot in heavy winter clothing after a short while. As a result, you could become overheated or begin sweating – and wet clothes are not as effective for protection against the cold. However, if you dress in layers, you can remove or add layers as necessary to keep your body at a comfortable temperature.

In sub-freezing temperatures, an extra insulating layer on the upper body (such as a sweater or fleece) can be worn under a weatherproof coat. Don’t forget to wear a warm winter hat or hood and gloves. Also, having a scarf to close up the gap and the top of your coat and keep the cold air away from your neck can make a big difference. Cold weather shoes or boots and warmer polyester or wool socks can help keep your feet warm.

Careful on the Ice and Snow

Finally, if you expect to be walking over ice and snow, besides winter boots, removable ice cleats (cleats that strap on to the bottom of your shoes) are also an option to help prevent you from falling. If you find yourself having to walk on icy surfaces, remember to take it slow (cleats or not) and take short, shuffling steps (like a penguin!) so that you are less likely to slip and fall.

Stay Informed

St Louis weather can change quickly this time of year. Sunny, sixty-degree weather one day can give way to heavy snow and freezing temperatures the next. Download a mobile app from the Weather Channel or AccuWeather and you will always know what the weather has in store.

Register to Win a Prize

Register to win a prize to help you survive the winter. The winners will be profiled in the next issue. Click  to enter a drawing.