F&M Winter Survival Guide

By Tyler Cohen, Contributing Writer ||

In case you didn’t notice, it’s getting cold outside, and if you’re a first-year fummer, you’ll need to gear up if you plan on braving the frigid Lancaster winter.

A December in Lancaster, Pa. has an average high temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 26 degrees Farenheit. However, last year we had over twenty days of sub-20 degree weather by Thanksgiving, and almost 11 inches of snowfall, and as we all know, it’s already really cold outside.

I have survived many winters; this will be my fourth here in Lancaster. So, being the gristly well-weathered senior I am, I thought I’d share a few handy tricks I’ve learned before I head off to conquer new frontiers.

Survival Tip #1: Read Your Emails

Once you’re a senior, you know that when it comes to free time, F&M students go into something of a hibernation during the winter months. Sure, it’s fun to have a consensual snowball fight every once in a while, but when it comes to below-freezing merriment, most of it takes place indoors.

There are a lot of fun school-sponsored winter activities, and if you pay attention to your emails, a lot of them happen right inside your college house, (and often entail free hot beverages), so if that’s where you live, you don’t even have to step outside to enjoy some neighborly company in a cozy setting.

That said, you still need to get to class, and the winter weather provides the campus landscape with a plethora of treacherous environmental hazards. Lancaster is flat, and therefore windy, and wind chill is a very palpable and unavoidable plight.

Additionally, it’s going to snow sooner or later, and when snow melts a little in the sun, it usually freezes into ice when the temperature drops again at night. When classes are cancelled and the campus is hazardous to tread, you will get an email. Make sure you read it carefully, and follow all guidelines and suggestions provided by the faculty.

Survival Tip #2: Stockpile for an Apocalypse

Ok, so there most likely won’t be an apocalyptic event this winter, (in 2012 I wasn’t so sure), but it can’t hurt to be prepared for one. Even if you have a car on campus, the less groceries, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications and school supplies you have to leave campus to purchase, the warmer and safer you will be.

I would recommend planning one big shopping trip to a wholesale store to buy enough supplies to last you through the end of finals week, (or even longer if you’re staying on campus through the holidays). You can also do some online shopping, but try to keep that to a minimum to avoid paying shipping and handling.

If you’re home for Thanksgiving break, consider taking Mom and Dad to a nice dinner and a movie, then casually mention how cold it’s getting in Lancaster county. If you play your cards right, they might be feeling generous and give you some help getting ready.

Regardless of your chosen method, you’ll need to know what to get. Keep in mind that some of the most revolutionary inventions in human history were products of environmental disasters. The Industrial Revolution was an agricultural response to diminishing soil quality, the biplane to spread pesticides during devastating locust swarms, and sprinkler systems to humidify crop-withering droughts.

This is to say, human ingenuity has an impressive history of making hostile climates more livable. Now, in our 21st century, these technologies are a walk, click, or short drive away, and usually available for a fair asking price.

To further this convenience, I’ve compiled a shopping list of innovative products that I guarantee are worth the initial investment for inexperienced fummers:

1. Insulated comforter

A recent study performed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that breathing cold air at night improves sleep quality and metabolic function in addition to decreasing your chances of developing Type II Diabetes. Sleeping in the cold is also economical because it saves electricity; needless to say, it’s a good habit to get into, and sleeping in a well-insulated bed is essential to keeping your body warm and cozy in a frigid atmosphere.

2. Water heater

Tea is better for your teeth, heart, and cognitive functioning in comparison to coffee, and several varieties have more caffeine as well. Hot cocoa is a winter classic, and if you buy an electric water heater, these deliciously hyperthermic beverages can be brewed in the comfort of your dorm room. A good thermos is also a smart accessory to consider.

3. Hand Warmers

Order a crate of them, stuff them in every pocket, and thank 17th century inventor Germain Hess for leaving his family of Swiss artists to study chemistry in the Republic of Estonia.

4. Petroleum Jelly

Dry cracked lips are painful and gross. There are countless petroleum-based lip treatment products on the market, and it’s important to be able to identify the varieties best suited for Lancaster’s winter conditions. Varieties often contain fragrances, flavors, sunscreen, and pain-relieving agents, but the common denominator is petrolatum, which is essential for chapped-lip prevention and almost all lip balms contain it. In my experience, simpler is better: just get a jar of original Vaseline petroleum jelly.

Survival Tip #3: Dress Like a Bear

This isn’t to say you should gain approximately 100 pounds of adipose fat tissue and grow a thick coat of fur, but a warm winter jacket with a hoodie and thermal underneath will save you from innumerable shivers. Here are a few clothing articles to add to that list:

1. Scarf

Scarves are a strategic and stylish choice for men and women alike. They’re hip, they’re handy, and most importantly, they keep your face and neck warm. Your upper-torso and head are the most temperature-sensitive areas of your body; wrap them up tight.

2. Bathrobe

The sleepy, grumpy, and grueling morning waddle to the shower can be the worst part of the morning during the coldest months of the year.  A bathrobe and fuzzy pair of slippers make this necessary chore more bearable.

3. Fresh packs of socks

They prevent boot-related chafing and tend to get wet one way or another. It’s good to have a lot of them. Also buy a couple pairs of wool socks– they’re indulgently warm.

Survival Tip #4: Live and Learn

I hope this has helped jump-start your F&M Winter survival, but I can’t prepare you for every challenge the next few months will conjure up. Be brave, plan ahead, and above all, stay warm. We’re here to learn, and this is part of the process. The Lancaster winter is lengthy and arduous, but never forget to be thankful that we’re all in this together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Work cited: http://1.usa.gov/1vexHOL

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