In a country like South Africa winters can get pretty cold, but because they don't last that long and it's mostly not as cold as it gets in the northern hemisphere, very few houses have central heating. Many people rely on heaters of some kind or coal fires to heat up houses. But these do not always do the job. Especially on those cold Free State mornings when it feels as if the air is biting you.
Every time you feel really cold, you have probably neglected to do some of the things below. Check out these tips. There may be one or two things you didn't know, or needed to be reminded of.
Invest in a fleece blanket. Supermarkets and big department stores sell light and very warm blankets and they are not expensive. If it is moderately cold, put it on top of your duvet cover and if it is really freezing, put it between yourself and the duvet cover. These blankets are also great for keeping warm while you watch TV. As blankets get older, they do become thinner and lose some of their effectiveness. Your blanket from seven years ago might need to be retired.
Choose a heater. This is not so easy, as bar heaters are expensive to run and can be a fire danger, fan heaters also use a lot of power, and paraffin and gas heaters, though effective, come with their own dangers, especially if you have small children. Wall heaters are quite effective, inexpensive to run and not dangerous. That might be the way to go. You'll need at least two per room in cold climates.
Get some exercise. Nothing warms you up like a good long walk or a run. Your blood starts circulating – even to your hands and feet and you will retain that warm glow long after you've stopped moving about. Generally when it's ice cold outside the last thing you feel like is getting out there. Just do it. But watch where you're going - many a lengthy hiking trip in the heart of winter has ended in disaster. Hypothermia is a real killer.
Go for the layered look. Wearing different layers of clothing traps the air between the clothes and warms it up. It is therefore better to wear three different garments – brushed cotton is nice and warm – than one thick one. Also, if it warms up, you can take off the top layer or two, which you can't do if you're only wearing one thick garment. Unless you want to cause a stir.
Wear a woollen hat. To prevent your feet from getting cold, put a hat on your head. It sounds crazy, but it works. Your body loses most of its heat through your head. The minute this happens, circulation is reduced in extremities such as your hands and feet. Keep your head warm and your feet won't get cold. Simple.
Get warm socks. Once your feet are freezing there are few things, except a warm bath, that will heat them up again properly. Once they're warm, keep them warm – and the best way to do this is with a pair of woollen hiking socks. Fleamarkets often sell them at half the price you would pay in sports shops. Thin nylon socks just won't do it. You need chunky stuff.
Windbreakers win. Windbreakers do just that – they keep the wind off you. And when it's cold and the wind blows, winter chill really sets in. Windbreakers have the added benefit that they also keep you dry. And everyone who has been wet and cold in the middle of the winter will know it's almost impossible to get warm again unless you take a bath.
Keep a jersey at work. Your mom was right. You should always take a jersey. When you're freezing it's difficult to do anything. Keep an old jersey in your drawer or in your car in case you suddenly need it. You will be truly grateful for it on the day you're unexpectedly cold and shivering. If you're working outside, warm and appropriate clothing is even more essential. As they say, there isn't really something like bad weather, just the wrong clothing.
Snuggle up to someone. Just make sure you want to be snuggled up to by this person, otherwise it can have all sorts of consequences you might not have anticipated! But especially on a camping trip, there is no better way of warming yourself up than snuggling up to a friend.
Make a fire. There's nothing quite like a fire to give you a feeling of cosy winter cheer. Fires also heat up rooms and if you're camping, they can also be used for cooking food or boiling water – very handy if you're freezing after a long day of hiking. But keep an eye on an open fire. They come with their own dangers.
Scarves and gloves. If you're feeling industrious, you can even knit a scarf yourself, but gloves are best left to the experts. Both scarves and gloves can be bought for reasonably little at most large supermarkets. Not having freezing hands will definitely contribute to the winter being a more pleasant experience.
(Picture: Couple cuddling in front of fireplace from Shutterstock)