How to survive and enjoy your first winter!

2 Mar


If you’re new to winter or planning a move to a colder environment, here are some ways to not only make it through the cold weather, but to learn to really enjoy it!

  • – Yes, we really plug our cars in! When it gets too cold outside, most cars need to be plugged in and it’s not really a big deal. Just remember to do it, and to unplug it before you drive away. Be aware that there are people who steal the extension cords too.
  • – Make sure to clean your car off properly. If there’s a lot of snow you’ll have to brush it off. Get a good brush/scraper – you can pick these up at pretty much every local store. Scrape the ice, make sure your license plate is visible. And if there’s been a lot of snow and you’re sitting in the car waiting, make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear of the snow.
  • Make sure your tires are winter ready too. You can get winter tires which you’ll have to change seasonally or look for all weathers (not all seasons) which you can keep on all year. Makes a big difference driving through snow and ice.
  • If it’s your first time driving in snow and ice – take it easy. You can also take some courses to feel more comfortable. Make sure your car is winterized also – check oil, fluids etc.
  • A CAA membership goes a long way – whether you’re stuck in a snow bank or a ditch, need a boost and lots of other services.
  • Playing in the snow can be so much fun – but if your kids are new to it make sure they know not to tunnel in the snow or dig down too far.
  • Invest in proper winter gear, you’ll get many years out of it and you might as well be warm. Get a good jacket, gloves, tuque and boots. For kids you can often find used or get hand me downs also. The warmer you are, the more you’ll want to be outside having fun.
  • Be careful on the ice – walk with your hands out, not in your pockets. If you do fall at least you can try to catch yourself. There are techniques for walking on the ice, like a penguin and things like that. I just find good boots and being cautious usually does the trick. Salt your walkways too when they get icy.
  • Make sure your house is winterized – if you have older windows you can cover them in plastic. If there’s drafts either get them repaired or put a towel down if necessary. Keep your furnace in good order, and if there’s issues you can always call Hydro to come take a look. Expect your hydro bill to go up a lot in the winter – not much can be done about that, but if you’re careful you can at least keep it a bit lower.
  • Have fun out there! Dress warmly in layers so you can do all kinds of activities. You might not want to be outside long when it’s -40 or worse. But once you get used to it -20’s really isn’t so bad.
  • Be aware of windchills. These won’t affect your car, just you. That is how you end up with frostbite. When the windchill brings the temps really low, make sure all skin is covered up when you’re outside – whether you’re waiting at the bus stop or doing an outdoor activity. It doesn’t take long for skin to freeze.
  • Don’t lick anything metal – mostly one for the kids, but who knows? I did this, like many Canadian kids I’m sure and it’s not something I’d want to repeat. Mostly done as dares I think – and if you do it just right you’ll be peeling off a lot of your tongue or lips after. Same with not running hot water on your hands when they get frozen, just let them warm up gradually.


  • – If you do like to be extra warm and cozy, get a heated blanket or pick up some magic bags. You can even make your own magic bags, it’s just rice in material (even a sock) and you heat it up in the microwave. That can be really good for warming up a cold bed at the feet.
  • – Since it gets very dry in the winter, expect to have a lot of dry skin, and dry inside you nose and throat. You can get a humidifier and some good lotions for that.
  • – Ask a local for help – there’s nothing more than a winter person likes to do is help someone choose good winter gear and offer advice. And they’ll help you find the best deals of course!
  • – Get out there and enjoy it – try out curling, or skating on the river, cross country skiing, winter fires are fun too and keep you warm.
  • – If you have pets make sure to not leave them outdoors too long, and be aware of their paws and the salty ground.
  • There are really fun and amazing things happening outdoors all winter long, check out local hotspots like The Festival Du Voyageur, Fort Whyte, Living Prairie Museum etc.
  • Don’t give in to cabin fever – staying inside too long in the winter isn’t a good thing.
  • Be aware of the weather, check for storms before heading out. The highways do close here when the weather is really bad. And if you are out and it’s super cold, don’t stop moving. Make sure to have a safety kit in your car – extreme winter gear, candles, a bit of food etc.

Get out there and enjoy it! Nothing like that first snowfall, your first time toboganning or even just a snowball fight!

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