Surviving Your First Winter in Canada – Part 1

by Thelma O’Connor
Winter in many parts of Canada can be hazardous, and even deadly, becuase of the extreme cold, severe winter storms and challenging driving conditions. As a newcomer to Canada, knowing what to realistically expect, and how to prepare yourself and your family for winter is essential.

Clothing and footwear:
Wait until you arrive in Canada before purchasing winter clothing and footwear. Winter attire sold in other locations may not be sufficiently ‘winterized/insulated’ to keep you warm and dry in a harsh Canadian winter.

Purchase a good pair of snow boots for each family member when you arrive. Prices range from $50 – $150, with some snow boots designed to withstand temperatures as low as -70C degrees. Snow boots are a ‘must have’ item, and although they may not look very fashionable, your feet will stay warm and dry.

Winter Driving and Surviving
Put together a winter survival kit for your vehicle. At the very least this should include a telescopic snow shovel, road flares, tow rope, ice scraper and brush, a set of warm clothing – thermal lined gloves and hat, down coat, scarf, snow boots – a sleeping bag or a couple of heavy blankets, a flashlight, a tin can with a ‘survival candle’ and matches/lighter.

Some water and non perishable food supplies are also good to have on hand, in case you become stuck in a snow bank or break down on the roadside and need to wait several hours for a tow truck or help to arrive. Always ensure in winter that you travel with a cell phone that is fully charged. It is also a good idea to notify a friend or relative of your departure, planned route and expected arrival time.

Do not allow the fuel in your vehicle to run low during winter. If there is less than a quarter of a tank of fuel in your vehicle it may freeze and your vehicle will not start!

Driving, braking and controlling a vehicle on ice requires an extra margin of caution, skills and alertness. If you have never driven on snow and ice before, taking a winter driving course is highly recommended as it will will teach you the specific techniques required to maintain full control of your vehicle and will help to boost your winter driving confidence.

Check back soon for Part 2 – Surviving Your First Winter in Canada

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