Headed to a Wintry State on Your Next Assignment? Get Ready for the Cold.
Climate varies across the United States. If you’re a fan of dry heat, Arizona is just right. Don’t mind humidity? Florida awaits! Want a good mix of all four seasons? New Hampshire is a lovely place to call home. But when it comes to winter weather, there’s no beating the Upper Midwest or Northern New England. When winter descends on these regions, it brings subzero temperatures, icy winds, heavy snows, and plenty of danger. It can be a rude awakening for travel nurses new to wintry weather.
Winter can get bad
In Northern cities, the winter season is full of inclement weather. Travel nurses need to prepare for harsh conditions, no matter what form they take:
- Snow. Blizzards and whiteout conditions can dump multiple feet of snow on cities overnight, leaving you digging yourself out the next morning. Getting caught on the road in a snowstorm is dangerous, too. It can be difficult to see and navigate slick road conditions.
- Ice. From freezing rain and sleet to melting snow re-freezing overnight, ice is a major hazard. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear and tread carefully on slippery surfaces. If you’re renting a home, prepare to stock up on salt to keep your walkways and driveways safe.
- Cold. Even during the day, temperatures can easily drop into single digits or negative numbers. Factor in the wind chill, and it’s not uncommon for wintry temperatures to fall well into the negatives. At night, it can get even worse. Make sure you’re dressed for exposure — even if you don’t plan on being out long.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself dealing with all three of these hazards. The key to making it through your wintry assignment is keeping apprised of the weather and prepared for every eventuality.
How to prepare for the winter season
If it’s your first time in a winter climate, or you’re more familiar with warmer locales, there are a few simple steps to safeguarding yourself against the worst of winter weather. Here’s how to stand tall against whatever the weather throws at you:
- Watch the weather. Check the forecast each night, or before each shift, to see what exactly winter has in store for you.
- Build out your wardrobe. Thick wool socks, an insulated jacket, long underwear, hats, gloves, and scarves should all be staples of your daily attire.
- Stock up on essentials. The last thing you want to do on your day off is risk frostbite. Plan to stock up on groceries and personal items for fewer trips outside.
- Keep your electronics charged. Most smartphones and other personal devices have lithium-ion batteries which can fail in the cold. Keep them charged and warm.
Wintry weather can throw a wrench into anyone’s schedule. As a travel nurse, you’ll likely find yourself being asked to cover for certain areas when coworkers can’t make it in. You might also find yourself with a vehicle that doesn’t start or a bus that doesn’t show up. Maintain an open line of communication with your supervisor, and make sure you know the policies regarding inclement weather conditions.
Winter can be beautiful
If you haven’t experienced a Midwestern or New England winter, you’re in for a treat. When the winds die down and the sun comes out, winter can be an especially beautiful time of year. Waking up when the city is silent, blanketed in a fresh layer of snow, is an experience you won’t soon forget. Try to keep the tranquility of winter in mind — especially in your first experience with subzero temperatures or blizzard conditions.