Winter is quickly approaching, and anyone who has lived in NYC from November through March knows it can get brutal. Temperatures often plunge into the single digits, wind chill can be painful, and snow storms can be incredibly destructive. Still, many people live in NYC year-round and have developed strategies to get through the winter without too much trouble. These tips and tricks will make the season bearable and maybe even fun under the right circumstances. So grab your jacket and snow boots. It’s time to prepare for winter!
Preparing Your Home for Winter
Keep the Cold Outside
Whether you have a radiator or central heating, you want your home insulated. This means ensuring all your windows are closed, any cracks or holes in your walls are plugged up, and doors in your home don’t remain open for too long. For some added heat, see about getting some blackout curtains or insulating shades, which will help prevent heat from escaping. If you’re still feeling a little chill in the air, it’s time to start dressing in layers and breaking out the blankets. Rugs and carpets will also help keep your floors nice and toasty. Space heaters can be helpful here too, but make sure you have a fire extinguisher, as they can be a fire hazard.
It’s good to have emergency supplies, like a flashlight, fresh water, and canned food, as well as extra batteries for smoke alarms, ready in the case of a power outage. Ice storms can wreak havoc on NYC powerlines, occasionally leaving people without power. It’s good to be prepared if and when that happens, so having a few extra supplies is always smart. Making sure your phone is charged, you have a crank radio, and a surplus of blankets is also a good idea. You want to be fed, warm, and capable of receiving new information. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry. If you have pets, keep their needs in mind as well.
Beware of Salt
People put out road salt during winter to help keep sidewalks and roadways free of snow and ice. Unfortunately, this salt can get stuck to your shoes, damaging floors and even being hazardous to pets. It’s good to have a place to wipe your shoes off at the entryway to your home. Having a designated space for shoes or wipes to clean them is a great way to save your floors and keep your pets from eating that nasty road salt.
Preparing Yourself for Winter
Dress in Layers
The cold and wind chill in NYC is no joke. When locals tell you to dress in layers, they don’t mean just a sweater and a coat. They mean thick or multiple socks, long johns underneath your pants, several layers of shirts and sweaters, and even face coverings. A nice pair of thick gloves will be extremely helpful too. People who find themselves outside in the winter will thank their lucky stars that they have enough layers to keep themselves warm. Many will also bring extra layers in a backpack, just in case.
Get a Sturdy Pair of Boots
Snow in NYC is tricky and can go through a lot of changes in a short amount of time. It usually starts powdery and white, becomes gray sludge, and quickly transforms into ice. These considerations can all be dangerous for different reasons, but a sturdy pair of boots can be the solution. You want a pair with good traction, waterproofing, and, ideally, material to help keep your feet warm. The city winter will beat these shoes up, so you’ll likely need new ones every few years. That said, it’s one of the best investments you can make.
Download Emergency Alert Apps/Keep Track of the Subway
In most cases, the subway system won’t close down entirely. However, many lines and stations will face difficulty in the winter months due to cold, snow, and other issues. It can be extremely annoying to try and navigate the city when your station is closed down, so it’s good to keep track of all the stations you’ll need throughout your day. Again, it’s unlikely that the entire system will shut down, but it’s happened before. It pays to check to see what is and isn‘t running. You can sign-up for Notify NYC by calling 311, or you can keep track of emergencies by following NYC.gov on Twitter.
Prepare Your Car
Preparing your car for winter is extremely important for those who drive in NYC. You’ll need some emergency supplies in case you get stuck. These supplies include kitty litter (which helps melt snow and ice), tire chains, emergency blankets, a portable shovel, a jack, booster cables, flags or reflective triangles, and a snowbrush/ice scraper. If you leave your car parked outside, try to find a garage to leave it in. In too many cases, cars get buried under snow from a storm or a snowplow. Always ensure your tires are good to go and don’t drive in unsafe conditions if you can avoid them. Driving during the storm is a good way to total your car, or worse.
Tips For Spending Winter in NYC
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Winter in NYC can be dangerous, especially if you try to do it alone. This is why getting to know your neighbors can be extremely beneficial, especially if you’re well-prepared and wish to spread the wealth. Helping your elderly neighbors, or even just making a new friend, can help make the winter months a lot easier to bear, so knock on some doors and share some info with your neighbors. There’s safety in numbers, and nothing beats building a community with the folks in your building.
Avoid Tourist Heavy Locations
Winter in NYC can be dangerous, but it’s also one of the busiest times in the city. People love coming to NYC to fulfill their dream of living in a romcom, and the amount of winter attractions here is staggering. This is why you should avoid places like Rockefeller Plaza and Times Square if you can avoid it. Large crowds mean that accidents are more likely, and there’s a higher chance of catching a seasonal bug. If you want to participate in the festivities, have at it. However, if you don’t care about the tree lighting, then it’s best just to go around these places.
Don’t Stay Outside For Too Long
There are many places to check out and things to do in the city, even during winter. However, staying out too long in extreme cold can be insanely bad for your health. Temperatures can plummet into the single digits, and the wind chill on top of that can make for a deadly situation for those caught outside for too long. Even if you dress in many layers, try not to stay outside for more than 20 or 30 minutes. In that same vein, if you see an unhoused person in these conditions, call 311 and ask them for help. No one should be outside in these conditions.
Find a Bright Spot
Winter can be an extremely dark and lonely time for people. The sun sets at 4pm, and nobody likes being out in the dark and cold. That said, businesses, bars, and restaurants are still open, and many of them have attractive offers that will leave you feeling warm and cozy. There are many places with heated dining shells and igloos, bars will start making hot beverages, and stores will have special events that will take your mind off the cold. Find a home base in one of these places and you’ll be a-okay.
Remember that Winter Will End
Winter in NYC can seem like the longest season of the year. Most of the time, it won’t get warm again till March, which can be a huge bummer. However, the season will pass eventually, so keep that in mind. Even when it seems endless, spring and summer will always return, so there is a light at the end of this extremely cold tunnel.
Winter in the big city can be a struggle, especially if it’s your first one. Making lists and preparing the right stuff can make living in NYC during winter much easier and maybe even a little fun. The season is long, so make sure you have plenty of clothes, food, and things to do to entertain yourself. Winter in NYC is hard, but it can also be magical if you allow it to be. So put on your snow pants, grab a hot drink, and face the cold NYC winter like a champion.