5 Essential First Canadian Winter Survival Tips

First winter in Canada? Welcome! Are you cold enough yet? There’s a reason Canada is often synonymous with freezing cold, ice, and snow. In fact, Canada is the fourth coldest region in the world (behind the Antarctic, Russia, and Greenland), with temperatures as low as -40° C in some parts. While every Canadian has their own way of coping with the cold, there’s nothing as shocking as your first winter here. Follow these five tips to stay warm and safe until spring thaws us out!

  1. One Word: Layers

The key to staying warm is dressing warm. That isn’t limited to simply putting on a heavier sweater. Start with a base layer of thermal or sweat-wicking leggings and shirt, then pants and a long-sleeved shirt, followed by a sweater. If you’re going outdoors for any extended time, make sure to wear snow pants and an insulated jacket. Worried you won’t have room for all these extra clothes once the season ends? Rent an affordable storage unit from a local storage company in Canada.

  1. Protect Exposed Skin

Sure, you should wear protective gear if you go tubing or skiing, but not for walking to the store or shoveling your driveway, right? Wrong. Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes in temperatures below -39° C (even faster with wind chill). It’s always better to be overly cautious than to put yourself in physical danger: Every time you go outside for an extended period, wear gloves, a warm hat, and either a large scarf that covers your face or a balaclava.

  1. Educate Yourself

One of the easiest ways to get frostbite or hypothermia is to not recognize the warning signs in time. Frostbitten skin looks white or pale gray and suffers numbness, pain, swelling, and blistering. Hypothermia is often accompanied by shivering, confusion, and weakness. While your first instinct may be to immediately apply direct heat, it’s better to use your own body heat. Get inside as quickly as possible to gradually raise your body temperature.

  1. Limit Time Outside

Even if you wear every piece of clothing you own, sometimes it’s just unsafe to be outside for long periods of time. Use your common sense and listen to your instincts. If you feel too cold to stay out, don’t—there’s always tomorrow!

  1. Don’t Underestimate the Sun

Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean the sun’s UV rays won’t affect you. If you don’t want to apply sunscreen in February, opt for a facial moisturizer and lip balm with SPF to keep your skin and lips hydrated and protected. And make sure you don’t pack your sunglasses away with your beach towels—a high noon sun reflecting off fields of snow can be blinding!

Now that you’re officially ready to face the Canadian winter, enjoy all the fun that comes with it! From tubing, skating, skiing, and making snowmen to roaring fires, hot chocolate, and cozy evenings.

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