Tag Archives: winter

Apps to Help You Stay Active This Winter

By Tracey Dowdy

Now that Mother Nature has dropped a blanket a snow on the northeast, it may be tempting to hunker down and stay inside til Spring. Instead, take advantage of the winter weather and make the most of the snow. There’s more to do than you may think.

Let’s Move

Let’s Move is First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to get kids moving and the Let’s Move website is a great resource for winter fun. Along with fitness tips and nutritious recipes, the Get Active tab has loads of suggestions to get you and your family moving, including a “Let’s Move Outside” option with links for “Where to Go” and “What to Do”. Discover forests, parks, hiking trails, and get tips on what to bring on your hike like water and healthy snacks.

National Park Service

The National Park Service website can help you find a park and plan an adventure in your area. Find winter activities near you or take advantage of winter hiking trails. Plus, to encourage families to get out and explore, every fourth grader (or age equivalent free learner) and their family is eligible for free passes to National Parks for a whole year.

Nature Rocks

Nature Rocks by The Nature Conservancy will be your go-to on snow days, rainy days, sunny days…you know where this is going. Fill in the blank from a drop down menu: “It’s (snowing, raining, warm, cold) outside. Where do you want to play?” Choose your own backyard, a park, the forest, or the water and get connected to ideas for Winter Olympics themed games, crafts like bird feeders made with pine cones, or art projects to make with snow.

Natural Learning Initiative

The Natural Learning Initiative has a list of fun winter activities you can do in your backyard. Go on a nest hunt with the leaves off the trees, make snow angels and paint them with food coloring, build a tiny igloo with ice cubes as bricks and snow as mortar, or use sand toys to build snow castles.

Finally, if you or your kiddos are going to be outside for awhile, remember these tips:

  • Dress in layers – Active play warms kids up so dress them in layers to keep them from overheating.
  • Stay hydrated – Kids may not realize how much they sweat when playing outside in the cold so remind them to stop for a drink once in a while.
  • Protect your extremities – You lose heat through through your head, ears, hands and feet first, so make sure you keep them protected.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


Best Apps to Help Prepare for Winter Storms

By Tracey Dowdy

This winter has been unusually mild (anyone else have to kick on the AC in on Christmas Eve?) but we all know the harsh weather is on its way. As someone who grew up on Canada’s east coast and spent years living outside Buffalo, NY, I’ve seen my share of winter storms. I keep a storm kit in the back of my SUV with items like granola bars, water, hand warmers, an ice scraper, kitty litter, phone charger and blankets, as well as other emergency items, and more than once it’s come in handy.

But in addition to emergency supplies, it’s important to have up-to-date information about the weather. My goal is to never have to tap into that stash of granola bars or use that kitty litter to help me get un-stuck. These apps can alert you when that nasty weather hits and ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

storm-shield100Storm Shield uses location-based technology so your weather alerts follow you even when you travel. The app provides severe weather forecasts, live video feeds, as well as up-to-the-minute radar and weather maps. You can choose to receive a text message or even a phone call any time the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning, which is particularly valuable for elderly or non-tech savvy family members. ($2.99 – iOS, Android)

intellicast100Intellicast Weather from The Weather Company (Weather Channel, weather.com, Weather Underground), provides real-time storm tracking and easy-to-read radar maps so you can see not only where the storm is but where it’s headed next. You receive alerts even when you’re not using the app and you can access the Road Weather Index to gauge road conditions before venturing out. (Free – Android)

dark-sky100Dark Sky has the most beautiful weather animations. It’s easy-to-read interface lets you know at a glance whether it will rain or snow up to an hour in advance, and you can customize your severe weather alerts for the next 24 hours so you’ll always be up to date with the weather data that’s relevant to you. ($3.99 – iOS, Android)

weather underground100Weather Underground gathers data from over 100,000 weather stations around the country, making much of the reporting exceptionally localized. Pairing this information with historical weather records, the app provides incredibly accurate 10 day weather forecasts. Content is user supported and curated, so reports are constantly monitored and updated, again making it very precise. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows)

flash-weather100FLASH Weather Alerts promises more accurate weather alerts than other similar apps. Users receive alerts based on a more specific geographic location – instead of getting an alert for severe weather in your county, it would be for a much narrower region. You can customize alerts for home or travel and add locations to monitor weather conditions in areas where friends and family live. Two notable features are the option to add an audio flash for alerts, very convenient when driving or in the middle of the night, and the option to turn off background tracking to conserve battery life. In this mode, FLASH Weather will only use GPS when the app is open. ($4.99 – iOS, Android)

I would also recommend downloading other non-weather related apps like Waze for up-to-date traffic information; Hotel Tonight if you have to get off the road or your flight is cancelled; Red Cross in case you find yourself in medical emergency during a storm; or even SAS Survival Guide with over 400 pages of survival tips and how to guides for times when Old Man Winter isn’t quite so genial as he has been so far.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.