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Category Archives: Winter Tips

How to Store Ice Cleats and Other Winter Items for Summer

storage solution winter productsWe know what you’re thinking: It’s now the middle of July and the cold, ice, and snow are impossibly far away. Why bring up winter gear storage now?

That’s a fair question, especially if you’ve already stowed your ice cleats, battery heated apparel, electric blankets, ski boots, gloves, and other expensive winter equipment in an appropriate manner.

But over the years we’ve learned that, for a variety of reasons (forgetfulness, lack of time, sheer procrastination, etc.), a large number of our customers don’t actually get around to this task until sometime in the summer—like right about now.

So if your winter gear has been securely packed away for the past few months, you can take this opportunity to check up on the items to make sure they’re completely dry and pest-free. And if you’re still fighting your way through wool sweaters and down jackets as you try to find your favorite t-shirt or windbreaker, use our tips for storing those garments for the rest of the summer:

  • Machine wash or dry clean the garment according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the label before storing. Then neatly fold or roll each item to avoid developing unwanted creases in the material, and place in a vacuum-sealed storage bag or airtight plastic container.
  • Heavier garments such as parkas and down jackets should be hung on sturdy plastic or wood hangers (never wire ones) that are able to support the extra weight.
  • Keep apparel and blankets smelling fresh by tossing a sachet of cedar chips or dried lavender in the storage container before sealing.
  • Store apparel and blankets in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help prevent musty odors and mildew, as well as keep moths, mites, and other pests at bay.
  • Use wall pegs, hooks, or racks in the garage to hang ice cleats, ski boots, and other winter footwear off the ground and out of your way.
  • Check in on your items every 4 to 6 weeks so you can spot any irregularities or problems in time to take corrective action.

Whether your winter gear has been safely stored away since the last of the snow melted or you’re just getting around to the job now, you can use the advice listed here to help preserve your clothing, blankets, and equipment in great condition until you need it again.

 

How to Minimize Slips and Falls this Winter

icy-sidewalk-caution-signThe calendar now says March, but that doesn’t mean the dangers associated with winter weather have suddenly vanished. Many parts of the country remain covered by snow and ice, so the risks of slip and fall accidents are still out there.

In fact, this time of year could be even more dangerous for pedestrians than the middle of January or February. That’s because people tend to let down their guard when they think spring is on the way, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to ice-induced tumbles. In addition, property owners might not be as attentive to sidewalks and parking lots in March as they are during the height of winter, so ice and snow are often left on the ground for longer periods.

To help minimize your own risk of slipping and falling in the coming weeks before spring sets in for good, keep these useful tips in mind whenever you’re walking outside:

  • Walk slowly across uneven pavement or on surfaces covered with snow and ice. Use handrails where available, particularly when going up or down stairs.
  • When crossing treacherous ground, maintain a low center of gravity by keeping your hands out of your pockets, bending your knees a bit, and positioning your torso over your feet. Take very short steps and be sure to stop periodically to prevent momentum from carrying you too fast.
  • As frequently as possible, try to wear nonslip shoes or boots that have some kind of traction on their soles. When dress shoes or other smooth-soled footwear is required, consider using an easy on/off traction device like the WinterGrips Ice Cleats from CozyWinters for extra grip and stability.
  • Avoid loading both arms with heavy bags, packages, or other bulky items. Doing so not only throws off your balance, but also prevents you from grabbing onto handrails or breaking your fall if you slip.
  • Use extra caution when climbing in and out of vehicles, as the spaces between parked cars are often left untouched by snow shovels and plows.
  • If you feel yourself falling, make an effort to land on “softer” parts of your body (such as your side or butt) instead of your wrists, knees, or other bony areas.

Winter is not over just yet, so walking outdoors requires that you be extra aware of the potential dangers around you. Take these precautions to minimize the chances of slipping and falling in the late stages of the season.

What to Keep in Your Winter Car Kit

Winter-DrivingAs a safety-conscious skier, snowboarder, or trekker, you never set out on an off-trail or backwoods adventure without making sure you have some basic emergency supplies in your pack. Your first-aid kit, avalanche beacon and probe, two-way radio, and compass are just a few of the items that accompany you on every single outing.

This attention to safety equipment should also extend to your vehicle. That’s because winter driving conditions, which can be dangerous even on well-tended city thoroughfares, may turn out to be downright treacherous on the twisty mountain roads that lead to the best powder. So before driving to your next snowy destination, take some time to load your trunk with the following:

  • Five-pound bag of sand or kitty litter to aid with traction
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow rope or straps
  • Spare tire or puncture repair kit
  • Extra cell phone (fully charged up before each trip) and charger
  • Energy bars and similar nonperishable food items
  • Portable camp stove with fuel source
  • Waterproof matches
  • Emergency flares
  • Battery-heated jacket and gloves
  • Blanket or sleeping bag suitable for use in freezing temperatures

In addition to the above, we recommend that you keep bottled water somewhere in your vehicle’s cabin area so it doesn’t freeze and is always ready to drink.

The limited space in your backpack means you don’t have enough room to carry all the critical gear needed to deal with winter roadside emergencies. Make sure you’re prepared for anything that might happen en route to your outdoor adventure by stocking your vehicle with the supplies listed here.

Keys to Stress-Free Holiday Road Trips

heated travel blanket pillow seat cover

Don’t look now, but it’s that time of year again. The holidays are stressful enough in their own right, thanks to all the extra cooking, cleaning, shopping, and spending required to make it through the season. So when you add in a lengthy road trip complete with bad weather, traffic, and fidgety kids, it doesn’t take long for stress levels to skyrocket.

Fortunately, with some good planning and a few simple precautions, you can improve your chances of having an enjoyable travel experience. Start by checking out our key tips to stress-free holiday road trips:

  • Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and maintained. Of particular importance for winter driving are tire tread wear, tire pressure, battery condition, and the level of engine oil, antifreeze, and other critical fluids.
  • Put together an emergency car kit for your trunk that includes jumper cables, a portable shovel, hand-crank radio, flashlight, blankets, a backup cellphone and charger, and bottled water.
  • When heading to an unfamiliar destination, map your route in advance (even if you have a navigation system in your car) to get a general idea of where you’re going. If you anticipate heavy traffic, consider planning alternate routes as well.
  • Make sure pets are restrained or contained in a way that is safe for them as well as for the human passengers.
  • Pack healthy snacks and drinks to avoid unnecessary stops and minimize hunger-induced crankiness in children and adults alike.
  • Eliminate arguments about the vehicle being too hot or too cold by providing each passenger with their own heated car seat cushion or travel throw from CozyWinters. We offer a variety of plug-in and battery operated warming products, including items for pets traveling with you.
  • For journeys taking longer than one day, limit driving time to a reasonable number of hours to reduce driver drowsiness and the potential for accidents. In addition, be sure to take at least one planned break every 2-3 hours to allow all passengers a chance to get fresh air and stretch their legs.

Holiday travel doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking event that spikes your blood pressure to unprecedented levels and pushes your patience to the brink. Just follow the above tips so you can emerge from your upcoming family road trip with your sanity intact.

Is Your Home Winter Ready?

Sweet winter homeWith the coldest months of the year now on the horizon, it’s time to ensure your home is properly equipped to withstand the extreme temperatures, howling winds, snow, sleet, and hail that make up winter weather in most parts of the country. Here is a brief checklist of some of the more important home winterization tasks that will not only keep you warmer but may also reduce your energy bills:

  • Replace screen windows and doors with storm windows and doors
  • Clean out the chimney and fireplace (or pay to have it done) and replenish the woodpile
  • Clean out the gutters to prevent ice dams and blockage
  • Inspect the roof for loose shingles or other obvious damage
  • Apply caulk or weatherstripping to the inside of doors and windows
  • Reverse the ceiling fans in your home (i.e. run them clockwise) to draw warm air down into rooms
  • Inspect your furnace air filter and replace if necessary
  • Check the insulation in your attic and add more to any areas that show signs of deterioration

In addition to the above, using products such as heated mattress pads and electric blankets may also save money on winter energy bills by focusing heat on people instead of a whole room.

For example, a heated mattress pad provides enough warmth and comfort that you can turn your thermostat down (or even off) overnight without disrupting sleep. One reason for this is that the pad directs heat upward, allowing it to warm your blankets and comforter as well as your body. Meanwhile, electric blankets can serve as portable sources of warmth for use in bed, on the sofa, or at your computer desk.

If you haven’t winterized your home yet, you may end up spending more on your energy bills to compensate. Instead, carve out some time to implement these tips so you can warm up without draining your bank account.

How to Clean Your Electric Blanket

With autumn quickly approaching, the nights will soon be cool enough to warrant use of an electric blanket. Whether you intend to purchase a new full-sized electric blanket, travel-sized electric blanket, or heated throw from CozyWinters or simply pull an existing one out of summer storage, here are some tips on how to clean it before use.

DO:heated blanket

  • Remove all cords and controllers from the blanket
  • Vigorously shake the blanket to dislodge dust, pet hair, and other debris
  • Presoak in a mixture of cold or lukewarm water and laundry detergent to help get rid of tough stains or musty odors
  • Follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions printed on the care label attached to the blanket
  • If the instructions are missing, run the blanket through the “gentle” or “delicate” cycle of your machine
  • Put the blanket in the dryer for no more than 5-10 minutes at the lowest heat setting
  • If necessary, gently stretch the blanket out to its original shape after removing from the dryer
  • Finish drying by draping the blanket over a clothesline
  • Hand-wash with cool or lukewarm water in a tub if your washing machine is not large enough to accommodate the blanket

DON’T:

  • Dry clean, as the chemicals used in this process can damage the wires and insulation
  • Wring or twist to remove excess water
  • Iron the blanket
  • Use commercial dryers found in laundromats since the heat they generate is too intense
  • Use clothespins, safety pins, or similar items to secure the blanket to a clothesline
  • Plug in a blanket with frayed or damaged wiring, cords, or controls

Nothing beats the feeling of snuggling up with a warm electric blanket on a cool autumn night. Follow the above steps to get your blanket looking and smelling as fresh as possible before you put it into use for the season.

American Cities with the Harshest Winters

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that not all winter weather is created equal. Even if you eliminate places like Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii from consideration, there are still significant differences in average temperatures, wind chill, and snowfall from region to region, state to state, and city to city. Of course, in our statistics obsessed society, organizations such as The Weather Channel track and record every aspect of winter weather so we can see exactly how these locations stack up against each other.

Which American cities can lay claim to having the harshest winters? Well, that depends on the sources you consult and the criteria that were used to arrive at the rankings. But in general, the following 10 urban centers appear again and again on plenty of lists because of persistently low temperatures combined with heavy precipitation and snowfall rates:harsh winter

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Portland, ME
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Columbus, OH
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Hartford, CT

Did your city make the list? If so, then we recommend using some of the heated clothing and household products we carry at CozyWinters. Our battery-heated gloves, jackets, vests, and other apparel will keep you warm when you have to venture out into the elements, while our indoor electric throws, blankets, and heated chair covers can help you save money on home heating bills. We also sell a variety of heated dog beds and water bowls to make the cold season easier on your beloved pets.

There’s a lot to love about winters that allow for outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. But it’s a completely different story when winters are so harsh that comfort and safety are compromised, so take extra precautions against the cold if you live in one of the cities listed above!

Post-Snow Outdoor Activity Ideas for Families with Kids

Many parents find it difficult to keep kids active and entertained in mid-March. For many, the snow and ice are most likely melted by now, which takes sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating off the menu. And yet the weather is not quite spring-like, either, so kids might need some extra coaxing to go outside and do something.

geocache5

 

Luckily, there are still plenty of fun activities that the whole family can enjoy despite the cold weather. As long as everyone dresses appropriately (for example, swapping out bulky winter jackets and mittens in favor of heated vests and heated gloves for more mobility without sacrificing warmth) the weather shouldn’t be much of a factor as you try one or more of these ideas:

 

  • Build a bonfire or campfire (in an approved location, of course) and toast marshmallows, roast hot dogs, or make S’mores
  • Go on a nature hike to glimpse local wildlife, observe birds returning from winter migrations, and see flora in first bloom
  • Pack up a warm lunch and thermoses full of hot chocolate for a pre-spring picnic in your favorite park
  • Visit the nearest big city to walk bustling neighborhoods, window shop, admire the skyscrapers and architecture, and sample treats from food carts
  • Set off on a geocaching adventure to explore new places and find hidden treasures
  • Take in an exhibition baseball game at reduced ticket prices before the regular season starts

Don’t let the lack of snow prevent your family from enjoying some cold-weather fun before spring arrives. There’s still plenty of time to get more use out of your heated apparel, so go out and try one of the above activities this weekend!

Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Which winter sport is for you?

snowboard skiWhen you gaze upon the slopes at any mountain resort, you’ll see both skiers and snowboarders zooming downhill, throwing out the occasional trick, and just generally having the time of their lives. Both sports look like a blast, but you only have the time or money to try one of them this winter and must now figure out which it’s going to be. To help you decide, let’s take a quick look at the biggest differences between the two.

Equipment
The most obvious difference between skiing and snowboarding is the kind of equipment used. Skiers have to have skis, poles, bindings, and boots, while snowboarders must have a board, bindings, and boots. As a beginner, you’ll definitely want to rent these items until you make up your mind which sport you’d like to invest in.

Regardless of whether you choose to ski or snowboard, you’ll need to dress for the weather and conditions, which typically means wearing waterproof snow pants, jacket, and gloves, as well as breathable socks and perhaps a battery-heated vest for extra warmth.

Basic technique
Skiers face forward as they move downhill, and are able to use their feet and poles either independently or together to generate momentum and provide balance. Snowboarders, on the other hand, are turned sideways on the board and move downhill perpendicularly. Moreover, they must use their entire body for navigation and balance, which is a skill some beginners may have trouble with.

Terrain
Both snowboarding and skiing can take place on a variety of slope styles and terrain, including mountains, hills, and manmade features. Skiing can also be done on highly technical courses and wooded areas requiring excellent control and tight turns, as well as across flat ground (cross-country). As a novice, however, you’ll likely stick to gentle or intermediate slopes until you develop the skills necessary to advance to more difficult terrain.

Although simply reading about the differences between skiing and snowboarding might allow you to make a decision in a pinch, we recommend trying both sports at least a few times before committing to one or the other!

What to Have in Your Winter First-Aid Kit

first aid kitWhen you ski or snowboard in-bounds at a heavily populated resort area, you don’t have to worry much about medical emergencies. As long as you dress for the weather in your heated outdoor apparel, you should be fine. And if you do happen to have an accident or require assistance on the slopes, you can count on receiving thorough, professional attention within minutes.

But it’s a different story when you venture out-of-bounds or embark on a backcountry excursion with just a handful of friends. In a situation like that, it’s critical that everyone in the party carry a first-aid kit packed not only with standard supplies but also with items designed specifically for cold-weather crises. So as you gear up for your next extreme adventure, make sure your winter first-aid kit contains the following:

Standard supplies

  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Medical tape
  • Nonstick gauze pads
  • Ace bandages
  • Wound disinfectant spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moleskin, Glacier Gel, or similar blister treatment
  • Fine-point tweezers for splinter removal
  • OTC pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Basic first-aid manual

Additional winter supplies

  • Mylar emergency blanket
  • Air-activated hand, body, and foot warmers, such as the Little Hotties products offered by CozyWinters
  • Waterproof matches
  • Safety whistle
  • Instruction manual or cards with information on treating hypothermia, frostbite, and snow blindness

As you can see, adding winter first-aid supplies to your standard first-aid kit won’t result in an overly heavy or bulky pack. Make sure you and your friends include the above items so you’ll be prepared to deal with minor emergencies and will be able to get back to the fun as soon as possible.