Outdoor guru says mittens better than gloves

Craig Vohwinkle of Gander Mountain in Traverse City holds a pair of mittens and gloves. He says mittens are better than glove at keeping your hands warm.

With temperatures down in the single digits Monday and expected to stay there for most of the week, 7&4 News went to the experts to find out how to keep yourself and your family safe from the frigid cold.

Munson North Flight emergency crews say when it's this cold, it only takes a few minutes for frostbite and hypothermia to set in, which is why it's important to recognize the symptoms before it is too late. Hypothermia occurs when your body can't produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm causing it to fall below normal.

So if you're out in this cold weather the next few days and experience stiffness, shivering, lack of coordination, mental confusion, and slowed reactions then you need to get inside as soon as possible.

To avoid these potentially life-threatening conditions, Munson North Flight EMT Jeremiah Shepler says you must set limits on time spent outdoors. If dressed properly, he says adults can be outside indefinitely. But for kids, Shepler recommends 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

Experts also say it is imperative that you and your family bundle up before heading outdoors and dress in layers.

Craig Vohwinkle works at Gander Mountain in Traverse City and says you should start with a base polypropylene layer, he recommends the Base 4.0 Under Armour Layer.

Vohwinkle says, "Lets say your shoveling show, walking to an ice fishing hole, cross-country skiing, your body will sweat to balance your internal temperature. The water on your skin will chill very quickly, it then it will the chill the rest of your body. You need to move that water away from skin and that's what these base layers do..."

On top of the base layer, Vohwinkle says you should add a couple layers of fleece as insulation for your core. The next layer should be a water-proof, light-weight insulated jacket that can protect you from the wind. As for your hands, Vohwinkle says mittens are the way to go. He explains, "Your fingers will share the heat that's in them and in a mitten you have that opportunity. In gloves your fingers are separated and actually bleed heat because your fingers aren't together...â??

Vohwinkle also says if you like to stay active, even in this cold; you should really look into getting a winter mask to ease strain on your respiratory system.

7&4 News also contacted Northwood Animal Hospital in Interlochen and spoke to Dr. Jen Klabunde about how this cold affects our pets. Klabunde recommends that you keep all cats and dogs indoors and only let them out briefly to go to the bathroom.