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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.

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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!

Ways to Prevent Pets from Chewing Electrical Cords

chewing wiresEveryone knows that pets have a knack for getting into trouble around the house. Whether it’s snagging an unguarded bit of food from the dinner table or turning a brand-new leather loafer into a very expensive chew toy, dogs and cats of all ages and discipline levels are capable of causing their owners some anguish from time to time.

While most pet capers result in nothing more than annoyance, there’s real danger involved where electrical cords are concerned. That’s because chewing through connected electrical cables or wiring not only compromises high-priced products such televisions and computers, but also poses a significant risk of shock, fire, or even death.

As a responsible owner, you’ll want to safeguard your precious pets as well as your expensive gear by doing one or more of the following:

  • Remove temptation by unplugging unnecessary cords and storing them away
  • Where possible, run necessary cables and wires behind sofas, shelves, and furniture so they’ll be out of your pet’s reach
  • Use a protective cover on exposed cables, such as the CritterCord Cord Protector available at CozyWinters.com
  • Use adhesive hooks and similar types of cord keepers that attach to walls so wires remain off the ground
  • Gather exposed cabling together behind a raceway or channel
  • Cover cords with double-sided tape to keep cats away
  • Make your electrical cables literally distasteful by lightly coating them with hot sauce, vinegar, chili paste, or something equally repugnant to pets
  • Remain extra vigilant in winter, when you tend to have more cords out because of Christmas lights, decorations, electric blankets, etc

It’s not possible to shield pets from every potential hazard in your home, but you can at least make sure they don’t have easy access to electrical cords. Take the above precautions today to protect your beloved companions from serious injury.

In Review: Sochi Winter Games

With the XXII Olympic Winter Games now officially in the books, it’s time to look back at some of the highlights that came out of Sochi, Russia, during these memorable two weeks of athletic contests.

The host country emerged from the games having won the greatest number of total medals (33), as well as the most gold medals (13). Norway followed with 11 golds and 26 overall, while Canada finished third with 10 golds and 25 total.

The U.S. did reasonably well, amassing nine golds, seven silvers, and 12 bronzes for a total of 28 medals across the 98 sporting events that comprised these Winter Olympics. There were some disappointments along the way — most notably the lack of any individual medals in men’s or women’s figure skating; the failure of the men’s hockey team to medal; and the crushing loss suffered by the women’s hockey team in the gold medal game — but there were some huge surprises as well, including 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin winning Team USA’s first gold in women’s slalom since 1972.sochi mikaela shiffrin gold

Along with Shiffrin, the following Americans left Sochi with a coveted gold medal and the title “Olympic Champion” in their respective disciplines:

  • Maddie Bowman (Women’s Ski Halfpipe)
  • Ted Ligety (Skiing — Men’s Giant Slalom)
  • David Wise (Men’s Ski Halfpipe)
  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating — Ice Dancing)
  • Joss Christensen (Skiing — Men’s Slopestyle)
  • Jamie Anderson (Snowboarding — Women’s Slopestyle)
  • Sage Kostenburg (Snowboarding — Men’s Slopestyle)
  • Kaitlyn Farrington (Snowboarding — Women’s Halfpipe)

Congratulations to members of Team USA and all the other athletes around the world that competed on behalf of their home countries in the 2014 Sochi Games! The amazing display of sportsmanship and skill was appreciated by fans — both those that braved the elements in their heated jackets and gloves to watch in person and those that followed the action on television from the warmth and comfort of their living rooms.

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.

Layering Basics for Outdoor Winter Activities

layeringThe key to being able to enjoy outdoor activities in winter is dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. The longer you’re able to stay warm and dry, the more fun you’ll have while snowmobiling, ice skating, hiking, or doing whatever else is on the agenda. Once you become cold and wet, misery quickly follows and you’ll just want to pack everything in and call it a day.

So what’s the best way to dress for the elements? Well, since winter weather can be unpredictable, layering is the approach most people prefer. Dressing in layers allows you to be flexible and add or remove clothing as external temperatures and conditions dictate.

But layering involves a little more thought than simply piling on as many shirts, sweaters, and jackets as possible. Here’s how to do it the right way:

Base layer
The purpose of the base layer is to keep you dry, which means you should wear something made from moisture-wicking fabric that will carry sweat away from your skin. The base layer can be snug or loose, depending on personal preference, and can consist of anything from lightweight thermal underwear to long-sleeved tees or turtlenecks.

Middle layer
While the base layer should keep you dry, the middle layer should retain body heat to keep you warm. Merino wool, fleece, and synthetic materials like Thinsulate are ideal for this layer, as is any battery-heated apparel you may have. The middle layer should be loose to allow for unrestricted movement.

Outer layer
The outer layer or shell is your first line of defense against the cold, wind, and rain, and should therefore consist of the best quality product you can afford. Depending on your intended activity, you should choose a shell that is windproof, waterproof, and temperature rated for expected conditions.

Extremities
It’s also important to keep your head, hands, and feet warm and dry during your outdoor activities. Fleece hats and toques can help retain heat and repel wind, while battery-heated glove liners, water-resistant gloves or mittens, and insulated boots will ensure your fingers and toes stay toasty warm.

How to Extend the Life of Lithium Batteries

lithium batteryJust like most of today’s portable electronic products, such as laptops, tablets, MP3 players, and cell phones, the heated apparel available from CozyWinters is now powered by Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. That’s because Li-ion batteries are smaller, more efficient, and provide better overall performance than their Nickel-cadmium (NiCad) predecessors.

But all batteries, even those using Li-ion chemistry, have a finite lifespan and must eventually be replaced. While the actual replacement rate is impossible to predict since it depends on such variables as usage, storage conditions, and discharge cycles, there are a number of specific steps you can take to extend the life of your Lithium-ion power cells:

  • Fully charge a new Li-ion battery before using it for the first time
  • Do not make a habit of running Li-ion batteries below a 20% charge
  • Aim to go through at least one complete discharge cycle — charging the battery to 100% and then letting it drain to zero — for every 30 partial discharge cycles (or approximately once a month)
  • Prior to putting a Lithium-ion-powered device into long-term storage, charge the battery to 40%
  • Store Li-ion batteries in a cool, dry place that is impervious to extreme temperatures
  • Never store a fully-charged Li-ion battery for a lengthy period
  • Be sure to turn on and run Li-ion batteries at least once every few months to prevent capacity loss

In addition, using high-quality Lithium-ion power cells like the ones available in our WarmGear Battery Heated Clothing will yield a longer lifespan than cheaper, low-quality batteries. And when you couple the Lithium-ion power cells with WarmGear Global Charging Technology, you’ll be able to enjoy fully-charged Lithium-ion batteries no matter where in the world your outdoor adventures take you.

Remember, nothing will make your Li-ion batteries last forever. But following these tips and using WarmGear Lithium-ion power cells from CozyWinters will help extend the longevity of your batteries so you can get the most out of your heated apparel and home electronics.

Sochi Winter Games at a Glance

sochiHere at CozyWinters, we love any and all things winter — including the Olympics! So as you can imagine, we’re particularly excited about the upcoming Sochi Games and are counting down the days until we can cheer on our favorite American athletes as they represent our country in international competition.

Of course with any spectacle as big as the Olympics, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information surrounding the event. That’s why we’ve spent some time sifting through the minutiae to pick out the more important details and organize them in this handy at-a-glance guide for you:

 

Dates: February 7 (Opening Ceremony) to February 23, 2014 (Closing Ceremony)

Host city: Sochi, Russia, with additional events taking place in Krasnaya Polyana

Estimated cost to host city: More than $50 billion

Official motto: “Hot. Cool. Yours.”

Official mascots: The Polar Bear, the Hare, and the Leopard

Time difference: 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S.

Number of participating nations: 88

Number of participating athletes: More than 5,500

Number of sports: 15 (Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skeleton, Bobsled, Curling, Freestyle Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined, and Biathlon)

Number of Events: 98

Number of American athletes, coaches, and staff expected to attend: 375

Broadcast coverage: NBC and NBCOlympics.com

These fast facts should give you a basic feel for what to expect from the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Now all that’s left to do is fix a big bowl of popcorn, grab your comfy heated electric throw, settle into your favorite chair, and root for the red, white, and blue!

Packing for Your Snowy Adventure

blog packingIf you followed our advice from last week’s post about how to choose a great ski resort, then hopefully you have your next holiday all booked up by now and can turn your attention to other details — such as what to pack for your trip.

Packing appropriate, essential, and useful gear while leaving the unnecessary stuff at home can make the difference between an enjoyable time on the mountain and a miserable one. While the precise contents of your luggage will ultimately be determined by a number of factors, including the length of your trip and your experience level, here’s a brief checklist of what to pack for your snowy adventure.

For the main slopes at a full-service resort:

  • Ski/snowboard boots, skis/snowboard, ski poles, and protective helmet (if not renting equipment)
  • Several layers of warm clothing, including a moisture-wicking base layer
  • Water resistant outerwear, including a windproof jacket and snow pants
  • Battery heated gloves
  • Tinted goggles or sunglasses
  • Lip balm and  sunscreen
  • Portable boot dryer
  • Neck wallet for carrying cash, ID, insurance card, and room key
  • Prescription medications
  • Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses

For off-the-beaten-track adventures:

If you plan to head further afield with a smaller group, we also recommend carrying the following in a backpack:

  • Portable shovel
  • Avalanche beacon and probe
  • Two-way radio
  • Fully-charged cell phone
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Map of the area
  • Compass
  • Multitool or Swiss Army knife
  • Energy bars or trail mix
  • Water
  • Safety rope and harness
  • Carabiner
  • Waterproof matches

Remember, these lists are just general guidelines and not meant to be comprehensive. When packing for your own snowy adventure, you can (and should) add or subtract items based on the particulars of your trip. The bottom line is to be prepared for the elements and some potential emergencies so you can have fun!

Five Tips for Choosing a Ski Resort

deer valley resortJanuary is the height of ski and snowboard season, so if you’ve been meaning to try one or both of these sports, now is the time to start making plans.

But there’s more to putting together a successful ski vacation than just grabbing your battery heated clothing and booking rooms at the cheapest resort you can find. Instead, you’ll have a better chance of making your outing a successful one if you follow these five tips for choosing a ski resort: 

  1. Assess the skill level of everyone in your group. Not all mountains are created equal, of course, which means you have to choose one that has terrain to match your group members’ abilities. This could mean small and gentle slopes for beginners, or longer runs with fast and steep descents for advanced skiers.
  2. Investigate childcare options and activities for younger children. If you are traveling with younger children that aren’t quite ready for skis, it would be a good idea to find out what kind of childcare options are available (and what it will cost you). Some resorts provide basic indoor nursery-style care with snacks and meals, while others might offer sledding, sleigh rides, and similar outdoor activities.
  3. Take into account the “off-snow” amenities. Even the most diehard skiers and snowboarders won’t be on the slopes 24/7, so think about what else you’d like to do while at the resort. Do you want spa treatments? Are shopping and fine dining choices a must? Is a vibrant nightlife part of your vacation formula? Check around to find a resort town that has everything you need.
  4. Consider the size and popularity of the resort. Some of the largest, most popular ski resorts in the country can easily see a million skiers or more in a single season, which means their slopes are usually always packed. If you love being part of a crowd, then these renowned resorts are for you. But if you want a low-key holiday, try to stay off the beaten path.
  5. Save money by taking advantage of package deals. Just like other vacation destinations, many ski venues offer discounts to guests that purchase package deals. A typical package for a day trip might include lift tickets, lessons, and equipment rental, while overnight packages might also include special room rates and discounted meals.
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