Ten things I’ve learnt from life in sub-zero conditions
Below -20°C, the insides of your nostrils will crackle with frost and any hair left uncovered will gain a grey sheen, as though you have aged fifty years in a few minutes.
Below -30°C, nipping out the house for only a few seconds without jacket, hat and gloves becomes extremely uncomfortable. Cold metal feels like burning on contact, even through magic gloves. Eyelashes will clump with icy droplets.
Bowls of water will freeze solid in minutes, so to encourage the dogs to drink quickly we must mix meat or dry food into a watery ‘soup’ and feed it to them throughout the day.
Fingers and toes may be cold to the touch and throb, but it’s not until you have difficulty in touching thumb to pinky finger that you have to worry.
Not wearing a hat outdoors is stupid, and will result in a telling off from strangers in the street.
There is a stage before frostbite takes hold called frost nip. Frost nip only affects the top layers of skin, and will appear as a white patch with clear edges where the blood vessels have constricted. You’ll recover, but may lose hot/cold sensations in that area permanently. Most commonly affected areas: fingers, nose, earlobes, cheekbones
If skin sticks to a metal object, you don’t panic and wrench it away or the skin will rip right off. Lick or spit on the area to warm and melt it, but beware of sticking your tongue to the metal as well.
Following paths is necessary and smart if you don’t want to find yourself waist deep and struggling to travel faster than a few metres a minute.
Make up or moisturizer must be applied an hour or more before leaving the house on the coldest days, or skin may be badly damaged. Mascara is not a good idea. Yellow Vaseline (which has no water content) is ideal for chapped lips.
After a few days of -30°C temperatures, -15°C begins to feels rather balmy.