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You think it's cold in Florida? Here's some advice from the 'Icebox of the Nation'

If you whined this week, you have probably heard a rebuttal.

"Cold?! Florida isn't cold! Try upstate New York! North Dakota! Minnesota! That's cold!"

Well, yes. But Thursday morning set another record low here, and the forecast calls for continued misery. How is a Floridian used to balmy breezes to cope with this vast tundra of doom?

We enlisted the help of Shawn Mason, mayor of International Falls, Minn., a city on the Canadian border referred to as "The Icebox of the Nation," where the temperature was a raging 3.5 degrees Thursday afternoon.

Mason, 47, likened it to a Norman Rockwell scene rife with ice fishing and frozen berries.

She shared tips and tricks for staying cozy. If Minnesota can do it, so can we.

We don't have a lot of warm clothes. How do we dress?

Make sure you have a nice pair of wool socks or heavy cotton socks. Then you put on a sweatshirt, then you put on your winter jacket, then you put on a scarf and your boots, a really good boot, not a boot you'd wear to a hockey game or the grocery store, a nice winter boot. A lot of people wear choppers.


Choppers are leather mittens that have a faux fur or shearling inside. The combination keeps your hands so warm. There are so many kids at the bus stop that have them. They make great clapping sounds at hockey games.

You just kind of dress in layers when you go to work. It's very nice to have a sweatshirt and a little sweater to wear to the office. If you get warm, you take it off.

Our lips are chapped! Help!

I prefer Vaseline for chapped lips and chapped cheeks. I know folks who run in our annual race called the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run put Vaseline on their cheeks and areas that are exposed to harsh, bitter winds. I'll do that every now and then if I'm going out or when my husband goes out to shovel snow. Vaseline should come up here and make a commercial.

What kind of lotion is best?

I'm a Burt's Bees fan, but there are a lot of good lotions out there and it just depends on everyone's skin type. During the winter, you need to make sure that you select a lotion that's appropriate. What may be best for you in the winter might not be best for you in the summer.

Any tips for keeping the house warm?

Some folks, if they don't have newer windows, they'll use that clear plastic that you attach to your windows. You blow dry it. There are no wrinkles. It's seamless. It's very clear. You can do that over a drafty window.

How do you get ice off car windows?

I would recommend to the people in Florida who may not be traveling with an ice scraper that your driver's license works really well.

Do you keep blankets in the car?

Always, always, always. I drive a minivan, so it's in the back area. The kit is all stuff you would need if you were traveling in cold weather and something happened and you have car trouble. This can has first aid stuff, some granola bars that are good for two years, some candy, tiny little cups that I can melt snow in. It's a little survival kit.

Tips for inside activities?

Board games. We love to watch movies. Making delightful dinners for your family, baking, making cookies, of course cleaning projects.

When you've got your kids pretty captive, they can't escape you. If you need them to clean the closet, now is a good time. You can promise them a good board game beside the fire. You really create a lot of memories during every season, but the winter season creates a closeness in your family.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or (727) 893-8857.

Cold weather essentials

They work for our northern neighbors — why not for us? Try Vaseline to soothe chapped lips and lotion to fight dry skin, keep granola in the car in case you're stranded and play board games to keep kids busy.

You think it's cold in Florida? Here's some advice from the 'Icebox of the Nation' 01/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 10:31am]
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