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(from an Alberta girl who was born in Toronto, lived in Whistler and routinely travels from London, England and Europe)

A little different from your average home preparation post but I was just on a plane recently chatting with a person who was thrilled to be moving to Canada, right in the middle of winter. It made me realize that my advice to him perhaps could be used by more people who have not had the benefit of acclimatizing through the summer into fall into winter.

First off Hooray! You have decided to move to Canada (or another spot with serious winter credentials)!

Here are the tips I gave.

1. Cold is not just cold – just like hot is not just hot. +30C is very different from +40C, just as -10C and -20C and it is important to know that as the temperature falls there is more at risk than just discomfort. What is important, just like in heat, is what is your exposure time and the temperature or real feel temperature. Each city in Canada is different; each week of the year is different. Are you taking the bus? Working outside? Or essentially living in the downtown Toronto Path system ☺ Watch out for the weeks or days Canadian’s lovingly call a cold snap. 

2. Frost bite versus Sun stroke. Both extreme sensations felt in response to overexposure, both can be dangerous depending on the extent. As a child I frost bit my fingers and toes ice skating, skiing, and tobogganing outside…this is something I still deal with as my circulation won’t keep my fingers/toes warm on mildly cold days – please do not take it lightly. 

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3. Black ice? Is there such a thing? Yes – it’s ice that is so transparent and glossy you don’t see it and it is Mother Nature’s perfect frictionless surface. Easily to slip on, horrible to drive over.

4. Humidifiers, hand cream, chap stick. Jumping into winter from a spot with higher humidity means your body has not adapted to the dryness in the air. It gets worse as you increase the temperature in your home, the air will dry out. It’s really easy for your hands and skin to crack – at that point you will curse yourself for not using hand cream and chap stick as the sting drives you crazy. Humidifiers are a blessing when you sleep. If you have the luxury, choose a house with underfloor heating, you may find it is a little less dry than the blown air.

5. Jackets, boots, scarves, gloves – totally necessary and look for the ones with thermal ratings on them. Think layers – Canadian’s routinely wear thermal layers underneath that you don’t see. If you will work outside – talk to your colleagues and think about heated clothing. Best thing I ever did was buy electric gloves and socks for my outdoors adventures (see #2).

6. Car safety – if you are driving make sure your car has blankets and spare warm clothes. If you get stuck someone outside an urban area – DO NOT walk to get help – you need to stay in your car and keep warm. Hopefully you have a cell phone, if not wait for someone to stop with one.

The great news in all this is that Canadian homes are built for the cold, and you rarely will feel cold in shopping malls and houses. Have fun and good luck!

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