How to stay warm as 'Winter' persists in Nairobi, Central

Wednesday March 18 2020

A man carries a bundle of blankets along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi on June 6, 2019, following heavy rains and a high demand for warm items. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The end of the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones left behind the dreaded ‘winter’ here in Nairobi.

Unlike in the show, where characters huddled round wood fires and dressed in animal fur, we in Kenya have to find alternative ways to keep warm.

The earlier we do this, the better, because the Kenya Meteorological Department has said Nairobi and Central regions will continue experiencing cold weather.

In the latest forecast, the weatherman has predicted that temperatures in Nairobi and the Central will remain low over the next week.

Cloudy and rainy conditions with short sunny intervals are expected to continue over the period.

According to the forecast, Nairobi and Central are likely to experience temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius with lows of up to eight degrees.

The temperatures could rise to a maximum of only 22 degrees Celsius.


Rift Valley and Western regions will also experience low temperatures, which will vary between highs of 28 degrees Celsius and lows of up to 10 degrees.

The regions are likely to experience thunderstorms and heavy rains over the period.

The coastal and northern region will be warmer over the next week, with temperatures ranging between 22 and 31 degrees Celsius in the coast.

In fact, meteorological data shows temperatures at the coast have been rising over the last few days.

Northern Kenya will experience temperatures of between 17 and 34 degrees Celsius.


Most parts of the country experienced chilly conditions over the last seven days.

Nyahururu was the coldest over the period, recording posting temperatures as low as eight degrees Celsius.

“[Over the seven days] it was noted that daytime temperatures generally decreased over most parts of the country. The Nyahururu Meteorological Station recorded the lowest daily minimum temperature of eight degrees Celsius,” the meteorological department said in its report.

In most Central region towns, business boomed for hawkers vending jackets and warm clothing such as scarves. In Nyeri Town, they flooded the streets with these and other items.

According to Mr John Njahia, a trader in Nyeri own, the demand for warm attire increased in May so traders acquired the stock.

“Business is good because it is getting colder. People are rushing to get jackets and coats ... that is good for us,” Mr Njahia said.


The cold and wet conditions are expected to continue throughout the month of June and could stretch into July.

As the weatherman continues to release regular updates on what to expect, here are a few tips for surviving the cold before the sunny days return.

Take hot drinks and eat hot meals

Did your mother or grandmother ever tell you that heat comes from a full stomach?

There’s a traditional belief that heat radiates through the body from the stomach and according to various studies, this could be true.

When you take hot drinks such as tea, the cup warms your hands as the tea warms your insides.

Anthony Bain from the University of Ottawa’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory said that if you’re chilly after sitting still for hours on end, taking tea to warm yourself works.

“When already cold, it is unlikely that the hot drink will warm you beyond the threshold to elicit sweating – so the drink will mildly warm you,” Mr Bain said.

Layer up

It is better to put on more layers underneath work clothes than relying on one heavy outer covering. 

A vest underneath your shirt and a light sweater under you coat for men, and a camisole under a top or dress and leggings underneath long skirts and trousers, will keep away the chills.

If you get too warm, you can always take off some of the inner layers.

Keep your extremities covered

Blood tends to move away from the fingers and toes in favour of more “important” body organs to provide warmth.

This is why you find that your fingers and toes are usually the first to get icy when exposed to cold weather.

Buy gloves and invest in socks to protect your hands and feet, and warm hats to protect your head and ears.

Invest in a heater

When in the house, you can add extra warmth to your space by buying a room heater.

The size you need depends on the size of your space, but the smaller the cheaper.

Heaters cost at least Sh2,000 at local electronic shops and supermarkets.

Insulate your house

As you make strides to generate heat in your space, keep the warmth in by closing doors and windows but ensure sufficient ventilation. 

Use rugs and carpets to keep the floors cozy.

The British Heart Foundation suggests getting thermal linings in curtains, but switching out thin ones for thinker ones such as those made of wool will work just as well.

Wear bright coloured clothes that are reflective

When walking outside in extremely foggy conditions, ensure you can easily be seen by motorists.

In areas such as Limuru, Kiambaa and Nakuru, which tend to get very foggy during this season, visibility is very poor.

Therefore, ensure you stand out to avoid accidents by wearing colourful clothes and avoid white and black, which blend in the mist.

Stay active

Sitting for too long will leave you feeling colder so move about and stretch to improve blood circulation.

The British Heart Foundation advises that even light exercises will help keep you warm.

Do not drink alcohol to keep the cold away

Alcohol is a vasodilator meaning that increases the flow of warm blood to the skin, increasing the feeling of warmth.

The vasodilating properties, however, takes the heat away from your internal organs, making your core colder.

A study by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine found that the “primary mechanism by which alcohol exacerbates the fall in body core temperature "is by reducing the ability to shiver, the body’s way of creating warmth".

Be careful when using a jiko indoors

Families that cannot afford heaters may resort to using jikos as they are cheaper and readily available.

Charcoal jikos may make your home toasty but are silent killers; many have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

As such, should you use a jiko, ensure the room is well ventilated and avoid going to sleep with the fire still on.

If you start to develop a headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, immediately take out the cooker.

Also, keep flammable items away from the cooker as sparks may fly and cause fires.