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Dress appropriately when venturing outside

Layered clothing is the recommended way to dress for winter activities and emergencies. Each layer of clothing has certain attributes for keeping warm and dry in the winter. Think four layers.

The first layer: A cotton T-shirt is a poor choice for staying warm. Perspiration will compact the fibers, significantly reducing its ability to trap air that the body has heated. A better choice is a synthetic-fiber shirt that is fitted but not skintight. Remember, the goal of layering is to allow the active wearer to peel off a coat or sweater and let out some heat but not all of it.

The second layer: A fleece sweater offers a much-needed layer of warmth by trapping air. An added advantage is that it is not attached to the outside coat, so the coat can be removed without having to remove the fleece sweater. Another good option: a wool sweater.

The third layer: A fleece zip-in lining is convenient because it can be removed and replaced by a lining of greater or lesser weight. One disadvantage: if you want to remove only the outer shell, you have to stop what youíre doing, take off the entire coat, unzip the lining and put the lining back on. At that point, you may have lost so much heat that youíll want to put the shell back on.

The fourth layer: A waterproof or water-resistant shell is an essential layer for anyone active in snow sports. Look for one that offers sealed seams and protective flaps over zippers to keep wind from leaking through. Also, look for a shell with underarm zippers. They can be unzipped to let heat escape, without having to abandon an entire layer. One added advantage of a shell with a zip-in lining, it has limited movement between the two layers, which means heat is less likely to seep out.

Remember when layering, look for garments that feel fluffy. Fleece is a good example. You can imagine the millions of spaces between the fibers. Avoid those cardboard-stiff, canvas like jackets. Donít even count one of those as a layer. It wonít trap any air.

The key reason for dressing properly for winter weather conditions is to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Beware of the double dangers and recognize their symptoms.

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