This time of the year is the most dangerous for our citizens without homes. Having survived two winters, (this being my 3rd) I thought it best to give some tips on survival.
A) Protect yourself from the wind and any precipitation. If you built your own shelter or are sleeping outside without a tarp or tent, find a place that blocks the north and southern winds. If you have a tarp/tent- face the sides pointing north and south with the main opening facing eastward and the backside facing west. This will give you the most protection against the wind.
B) Place your shelter on pallets or something else to keep it off the ground. A wet ground will not only ruin your belongings faster but also can be a detriment to keeping your shelter insulated.
C) Try to get some baby powder and multiple pairs of socks. Use the baby powder in your shoes to help keep your feet dry and extra socks to keep your feet warm. Don't wear your shoes when you go to sleep. Better to use layers of socks.
D) Have a large container or cup inside your shelter for bathroom use #1. Nothing worse than getting out of the covers when it's 20 degrees to use the bathroom and letting all the warmth escape from your bedding.
E) Candles can provide warmth in a small shelter and are available in many dumpsters for the taking. (Mostly behind dollar stores) Place these away from any materials which are combustible.
F) If you have a nice winter coat, use it to wrap your feet at night. Your extremities will get colder than most of your other body parts. Protect these parts first and foremost.
G)It takes a minimum of 4 blankets to ward off the cold during a 20 degree night plus your clothing.
H) Insulate your shelter with cardboard (Bottom and sides) and other materials easily found in trash and dumpsters.
I) If you get too cold and have a Post Office near you, go inside to warm up. Most Post Offices are opened 24hrs - 7 days a week so people can get to their mailboxes. Find other 24 hour facilities in your area.
J) Drinking alcohol does not provide warmth to the body but instead intoxication is the number 1 reason most homeless die during the winter time from hypothermia or accidents. Don't leave your shelter if your drinking!
K) Lastly, wear many layers of clothes. Even a t-shirt can help insulate your body against the cold.