Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, Professor of Thermo-Physiology at the University of Manitoba, is known across Canada as Professor Popsicle. His reasearch and experiments on cold weather, and cold water submersion, and the effects on the body, have made him a household name. He offers us advice on dealing with the extreme cold we've been facing in Manitoba.
While many of us might wish to simply stay inside during the recent cold snap, getting outside is a reality that we all face. Dr. Giesbrecht himself isn't necessarily the biggest fan of cold weather. "I hate the cold. It's like on oncologist, who doesn't enjoy the problem they study, but bringing more understanding to it." Dr. Giesbrecht perhaps understands better than anyone that we cannot hide from the cold. "My advice is don't necessarily avoid being outside in the cold. But do whatever you can to not feel cold." So, how do we avoid feeling cold when the temperature is -35, and the wind whips around us making it feel like -45? Giesbrecht offers some practical tips.
When it comes to clothing it's simply practicality over fashion says Dr. Giesbrecht; "now is not the time for dress shoes. I have my dress shoes at work, and I wear winter boots." Also while some gloves might look nicer, mitts are the better choice as they don't keep your fingers separated. "There's no such thing as a good pair of gloves in this weather," Giesbrecht says, "as well as wearing not only a touque, but having a parka with a hood to keep your head warm."
Perhaps the worst part of the recent cold snap is that it stretched through much of the Christmas break for kids. While it's been extremely cold it doesn't necessarily mean the kids have to stay indoors. What it does mean is that we're using caution, and supervising them. "You can bundle them up and let them go out, but as a parent or guardian I'd be going out and monitoring them. When you're young, and excited to be playing, you can often not notice how cold you're getting. But when you're out there as an adult, if you're cold they're going to be cold, and that might be the time to go home."
Professor Popsicles last piece of advice is perhaps his best: "Keep cool, but don't freeze."
It might be hard to believe right now, but this past year was actually the warmest year on record.