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How to prepare for Alaska’s harsh winters

Equipping yourself to withstand extreme winter chills is one of the most important steps in preparing for your move to Alaska. When temperatures can drop to as low as minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit for days at a time, you know you’ll need to put extra thought into planning your winter wardrobe and gear.

Here are five essential tips to keep in mind to make sure you’re ready to take on Alaska’s most frigid days:

Layers, layers, layers

Layers provide the necessary insulation from external chills while keeping heat close to your body. For the best protection against the extreme cold, use at least three layers.

The innermost base layer should be light, snug-fitting items like thermal underwear. Avoid cotton garments because they lose their ability to insulate your body when they get wet.

Recommended for the second, insulating layer are fleece or wool sweaters. It actually won’t hurt to use as many layers as you can manage for insulation, as long as they don’t limit your comfort and range of motion.

For your outermost layer, choose garments that provide protection from wind and water. Staying dry is key to maintaining the heat you need to withstand the harsh conditions around you.

Protect your extremities

Your layers will take care of your torso and all the essential organs housed inside it. But what about your arms and legs, as well as your neck and head? Proper gear to protect your hands and fingertips include mittens and hand-warmers. If you need to operate gadgets every now and then, wear specially designed gloves under your mittens to keep your hands wrapped even when the mittens come off.

For your legs and feet, invest in quality boots and consider using toe warmers. The extra layer around your toes can spell the difference between comfort and a bad case of frostbite.

Remember to protect your face, too. A balaclava will protect your ears, nose, cheeks, and neck from the sharp bites of chilly Alaskan winds. Wearing a hat, earmuffs, or a headband can also provide extra protection for your head.

Keep an emergency survival kit handy

An emergency survival kit should be part of your essential preparations for winter in Alaska. Keep one in your car in case it stalls during a blizzard, and have one ready at home for other unforeseen situations.

When packing a survival kit, make sure to include:

  • Flashlights and rechargeable emergency lights
  • Emergency flares and whistles
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency food, such as high-calorie and non-perishable snack bars
  • Clean drinking water
  • Extra winter clothes
  • Thermal blankets and a sleeping bag
  • Snow shovel and ice scrapers
  • Jumper cables

Invest in a sun lamp

Living in Alaska’s extreme conditions might also require you to protect more than just your body from the cold.

In winter, Alaskan communities experience shorter days – that is, daylight lasts for just five hours per day. This typically leads to a common, seasonal type of depression known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” During these harsh times, a sun lamp or light therapy box can provide a much-needed boost for your disposition, keeping you warm in both body and mind.

Thinking about moving to Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Valley? I’ll help you find the best real estate opportunities and share expert tips to prepare for the local way of life while I’m at it. Call me at 907.746.4663 or email office(at)myfavoriterealtyak(dotted)comto learn more.