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7 Tips For Staying Alive In The NYC Winter From a Former Street Kid

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The best defense against the cold is a healthy diet, proper hydration and ideally, a furnace. But let’s face it: you can’t afford any of those things. Here are some tips from someone who truly knows the value of fresh socks and a thermostat; a former NYC Street Kid.

1. Let’s be honest. Drugs.

Preferably heroin or whiskey but really whatever we could get our hands on. Scientifically speaking, this is stupid as fuck. It leaves you vulnerable to all the imminent winter dangers such as dehydration, hypothermia, exposure and more! But hey man, you’re starving and homeless and probably jonesing anyway; you do you.

2. Water


3. Carb up.

Okay, so say you still got shit to live for, or you just don’t want to be such a pussy, start by drinking tons of water. I don’t encourage eating snow because it will just bring your body temperature down further. Pack some snow in a cup and bring it into a bank or fast food restaurant for a little while to melt.

CARB THE F**K UP! – Photo source:

You need to take in more than you burn because staying warm in this is a physical workout in itself. Go to gas stations or try somewhere like a 7-11. Ask what time they throw out their expired baked goods and if you can have dibs on them. Most places just dump a trash bag out at night and don’t mind if you ask nicely. They legally can’t sell them anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good enough for your broke ass.

Stuff yourself on donuts, mini pies, and bagels; drink tons of room temperature water and don’t piss yourself unless you have a change of clothes. Sooner or later even that’ll start to freeze, trust me.

4. Layers

I cannot stress how important your clothing is. Don’t go fashionable, the bulkier the bum the better. You want to keep on multiple thin layers so that you can strip as necessary. The most important thing is staying dry. The minute a clothing item becomes wet, be it snow or sweat, it’s become more detrimental than helpful.

WATER = BAD via:

The most important parts of your body to keep warm are your head, your hands, your feet and your chest. Keep multiple pairs of woolen socks on you at all times. If you’re going to invest in anything this winter, make it a decent, durable pair of waterproof boots.

Can’t afford a winter coat? There are coat drives all around the city or you can just do what I do. Park Slope is a notoriously bougey area, but it’s yuppy bougey aka the land of the free box. I’ve scored so many great things walking around residential neighborhoods there on a weekend. Among them, insulated snow pants and a matching full body Hurley ski jacket. I even found my boyfriend snow boots! Real snow boots; like an 80’s villain whose dad owns a ski resort snow boots.

If you strike out, try this great place called “New York Cares”  for your nearest coat drive. If you don’t need one; then click here to donate.

Everyone deserves to survive until Easter so don’t be a dick, give us your old clothes.


5. The Portable Polyurethane Survival Blanket.

Alright, make fun of me all you want but in a world of tinfoil hats, I was the biggest crusader of the tinfoil blanket. This shit actually works ridiculously well in the sunlight. Basically, it turns you into a giant baked potato. I remember having to stay on the Long Island sound with my girl one winter when the snow was just melting. This thing saved our lil’ frozen asses. These babies can sometimes be found for as cheap as $0.99 cents a pop. They can also be found on Amazon for about $8, also via emergency workers, or at the Salvation Army. This is what paramedics wrap shock victims in so you know it’s good.

6. Quick Tips for the non-homeless but heatless:

  • Boil water. It creates humidity. If you can, build a small but insulated tent around it, you have a poor person steam room, yayyyyyyyy!!
  • Leave the oven open and a small pet nearby in case gas levels get too high. Think canary in the coal mine. Be super careful doing this. Sure, it’s a fire hazard for your whole building, potentially poisonous, and it can also dramatically raise your gas bill. Yea I know dude, but fuck, it’s cold right?
  • Space heater (there are cheap ones at Home Depot or even the dollar store)
  • Heated blanket (same as space heater)
  • Blahblahblah you have shelter, whatever stop bitching


Fuck you, I’m including my signature move here. There was a simpler, better time when I was known as “Yam Hands”. When I was younger I used to wear socks as gloves. I was constantly losing gloves and, rather than continue wasting the money I got from my $4.75 an hour job to replace them; I just wore my dad’s old used tube socks on my hands. However, this never really did the job, so logically, I started heating up yams. Yams are super cheap and take forever to cook meaning you can throw them in the oven wrapped in tinfoil and forget about them till later (a double hitter for the heatless, your oven was going for no reason anyway). Then remove said yams still in the tinfoil and clutch them in your bare hands while tucked away in a winter jacket.


I came upon yam hands because I was hungry but late for work. This is perfect for long walks because by the time you arrive at your destination the yams are cool enough to eat.

The only problem with this is that hand eating yams while shivering in a corner is “Weird”. Whatever. It’s affordable, effective and delicious.


And all jokes aside (I know, boring right?) winter and it’s onset has the highest rate of homeless suicides.

Reach out to someone if you see them struggling.


Refer them to a coat drive or hell, buy them some yams. Make eye contact and do something to show that you care. Maybe pack an old handbag with hygienic supplies and old winter gloves, then hand it to someone you see struggling. I mean seriously, snowmen got more attention than I did when I was on the street at 17.

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