The average temperature in Washington in January is 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Visitors from warm climates may be more sensitive to the cold and should factor in any sensitivity in deciding how to dress for outdoor inaugural events.
Attendees of all ages are likely to need hats, water-resistant coats, scarves or knit masks to cover the face and mouth, and gloves or mittens. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
Inaugural events may require walking long distances and standing for long periods of time, so attendees are advised to wear warm, comfortable shoes. As people walk around the city it is important to remain hydrated by drinking water and other non-caffeinated beverages. Cold weather can put an extra strain on the heart, so attendees with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctors' advice about exerting themselves in the cold.
The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold in more body heat than cotton. Perspiration can increase heat loss, and wet clothing can chill the body rapidly.
To prevent cold-related health problems, dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes, including extra socks, which can be removed as they become damp.
Eating well-balanced meals will help attendees stay warmer, although alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can cause the body to lose heat more rapidly. Warm, sweet beverages or broth can help maintain body temperature.
In the event of wet weather, water-resistant or waterproof outerwear is advisable to reduce the risk of hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature). Hypothermia can occur in chilly weather, and if a person becomes chilled by rain.
As a rule, to avoid illness people should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use antibacterial products. People who are on medications should bring enough medication for the duration of the visit, and people with medical conditions should bring their medical records with them. Visitors are likely to be away from their hotels and accommodations for many hours and should carry with them any necessary medications.
For more information on cold weather and avoiding hypothermia and frostbite, visit: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/.
For more information on the 57th presidential inaugural, visit www.inauguration.dc.gov.