Staying Warm in Russia
I've heard that bitter cold is headed toward the States this week, so I thought I'd share how Russians deal with the cold. Of course, it sounds like it will be much colder in many parts of the US very soon, but in Russia we walk 10-15 minutes or more every day no matter what the temperature because we don't own cars. So, in a way the need to dress warm is somewhat comparable with -15 wind chill here.
It's not surprising then that most Russians dress appropriately for the weather. It's very seldom when I see people walking on the streets without hats on their head. People dress like I am in the picture to the right with a knit hat, scarf, and hood. I'm amazed how much pulling my hood up helps with the cold temperatures. During the last couple weeks when it's been below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, I sometimes start getting a headache from the cold. I'll put my hand up to my head and feel that my hood has blown off while I'm walking in the wind. As soon as I tug it back into place, my head stops hurting.
Don't forget the pair of gloves underneath the pair of mittens to keep your hands warm. And, of course. the long underwear and sturdy boots on your feet. I haven't been outside since the end of November without boots.
Russians sure know how to make warm hats and coats, for that matter. The amount of fur hats and coats around here surprises me. I haven't taken that step of purchasing one for myself, but they are worn here by women and men all the time. I'm assuming that they are the most effective way to keep the cold at bay, but I don't know from first-hand experience.
And, or course, the children need to be kept warm as well. Babies and children are seen in any weather. In fact, toddlers, who can hardly move in their snowsuits, wander the sidewalks and play areas of our apartment complex all the time. From our window, they look as wide as they are tall with their arms sticking straight out from the thickness of their suits. I've even seen moms pushing these kids on swings during the coldest days. Nothing seems to keep Russians inside their flats.
When parents need to walk the 15 minutes to the metro station or grocery store, the kids go along for the ride. It's interesting to see what kinds of apparatus these kids are transported in. Wheels of strollers won't make it through the deep snow, so they have sleds around here for that purpose. The children or even babies are strapped onto the sled and off they go to the store. Some of the sleds convert easily to strollers by flipping down a set of wheels that are attached to the slides. We've never seen anything like it.
All the soldiers that we see walking on the streets or in the metros are likewise dressed for the weather in their typical Russian fur hats and long overcoats of their uniform. They won't get cold in them no matter how far they have to march in parades.
I hope this gave you some good tips to handle the COLD that's headed your way. Stay warm out there!