Winter Safety 101

December 7, 2021

Yikes!  A high of 12 degrees today!?  So this morning I begrudgingly put leggings on under my pants, pulled on my heavy socks, layered my shirts, wore my warmest driving gloves, and wrapped my neck with a scarf before heading out to the cold air.

I am prepared for the winter cold (and have in fact survived many decades of winters) but what about my new refugee students?  Not so much!  They were hoping that the weather doesn’t get any colder than 40s…such a harsh awakening!

As South Dakotans, we know the season.  Community-wide jacket drives for children abound.  On TV the summer ads have been replaced with sweaters and parkas.  The lawnmowers have been put away and replaced by snow blowers, the deck furniture has been overturned, the garden is barren, and the trees have barely a leaf left as the remaining few crunch under our feet. 

And although we have not hit the coldest month of the year yet, students are bundling up in parkas and scarves and winter boots.  They are telling me that it is COLD, and are in disbelief that the weather could possibly get any colder.  I sorrowfully have to inform them that the weather does indeed get much colder here in South Dakota. 

I truly had to look and know for myself the temperatures my students are used to.  Using I found the average January temperatures for several of my students’ warm climate countries.  South Sudan has a high of 98.2° F and a LOW of 68.2° F!  El Salvador, close to the equator, has a high of 87.1° F and a low of 66.9°F, and the coolest country I looked up was mountainous Nepal at 66.4° F and 36.3°F.  Balmy South Dakota, on the other hand, has a high of 23.4° F and a low of -9.7° F in January.

And that is the crux of the matter.  My new students have never experienced snow and actual sub-zero temperatures.  My students don’t know what mittens are or that we need to dress in layers.  They don’t know how slippery the ice is nor how bitter the wind becomes.  And so every year, we discuss tips on staying warm.  Here are a few basic ones all my students need to learn.

Tips for Dressing in the Winter:

  • Layer your clothes.
  • Choose tight fitting clothing to prevent air.
  • Choose long coats over short.
  • Invest in hat, mittens/gloves, and a scarf.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.

Do you know someone who needs a winter coat?  Want to Donate a coat?

  • St. Francis House: Keep Warm Keloland  
  • The Salvation Army: Coats For All  
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Center of Hope
  • St. Vincent de Paul
  • Good Will of the Great Plains

Hope you all stay warm this winter!

Written by Heather Glidewell

Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2041  |  T:  800-2422447  |  C: 605-743-0706  |  F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

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