Advice on How to Stay Warm From New Yorkers Who Work Outside

A man clears snow and ice from a sidewalk along Manhattan's streets on February 2, 2015 in New York City. Another winter storm has brought inclement weather to much of the Northeast, canceling schools and hundreds of flights throughout the New York metro area.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Just like the rest of us, New York’s delivery people, police officers, construction workers, and food-cart employees are over this winter’s historic snot-freezing temps. But unlike the rest of us, they don’t have the option to hole up in their apartments and wait for the season to end.

We braved yesterday’s millionth “severe winter storm sweeping the Northeast” to talk to people whose job requirements include blizzard survival about how to withstand the elements. They don’t get snow days, so instead they stock up on hand warmers, hot chocolate, extra socks and gloves, and, of course, whiskey.

Kiet Chen, USPS worker
“It’s important to drink warm soup and warm water — I keep that with me in my truck. Wear a good hat and gloves. Sometimes I wear double gloves. The shoes are the most important. If your feet get cold, you’re done.”

Lal Aminyar, Food-cart worker
“We have propane gas. Do you see that? We buy the gas for $20. That’s a great way to warm up. And on the other side, we have a coffee machine. So you can survive. You know, if you’re raised tough this way, you can survive. If you’re raised inside the house and you’re always inside, you can’t move this thing. It’s hard to move these; they’re hard to handle.”

Janios Quinata, UPS deliveryman
“I’m from the Caribbean, but I don’t get along with the heat. I don’t like the snow — fuck that — but I can deal with the cold. You put extra layers on and you deal with it. But what are you going to do with the heat? There’s no escape.”

Ta-Quan Chin, Mooncake Foods delivery man
“I only wear one big layer and one small one. If you wear too much inside, your body is too hot and you’re sweating. Outside, it’s so cold, and if you wear too much and inside you’re too hot and outside you’re too cold, then it’s easy to get sick. You get a headache or a cold. Right now, I feel very good. But after lunch, I need to wear a little more because it’s just like a workout. First there’s a warmup, then after your body reacts, so I need one more layer. It’s simple.”

Adrian Topi, Cleaner/porter
“We work outside all the time, having storms and stuff. Too many hours. Warm and dry … nice boots, pants, coats. We have to just keep changing the clothes because you get wet and stuff. We’ve got extra clothes downstairs. [I change] every two hours.”

Francisco Gonzalez, Mover
“Put on two pants, two pairs of socks, put on long johns, and drink some brandy.”

Wally Robinson, Superintendent
“Drink a lot of hot, hot, hot tea. Keep your feet warmed up, so take some plastic bags, wrap them around your feet, and put them inside your boots to keep your feet from getting wet. That’s basically it — you’ll be all right.”

Kenny Harrow, Locksmith
“Stay inside! I just do this because I don’t have a choice.”


How to Stay Warm: Advice From Outdoor Workers