Tips from a Canadian regarding the cold

So I’ve been watching Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan and having a giggle at all the cold observations. Growing up in Ottawa where -35C windchill isn’t uncommon, here’s a few words for people not used to this:

1. Layer clothing, it’s warmer than big bulky things.
2. Mist does rise from rivers and manholes due to the temperature difference. It’s beautiful. Take pictures at sunrise, catch the hoarfrost on the tree branches, but be careful driving in ice-fog.
3. Very cold snow squeaks underfoot. Things crack mysteriously, like tree branches.
4. Water freezes remarkably quickly including pipes. Keep your taps dripping if your house isn’t insulated. You can also insulate pipes.
5. It doesn’t snow as much when it is very very cold. If it is really sunny, it is colder than when it’s cloudy.
6. Never ever cook or heat with gas or charcoal barbeques indoors. Ever. Carbon monoxide kills.
7. Do not try to stay warm with candles everywhere and for heavens sake don’t put candles or kerosene lamps inside a tent for heat. It’s a huge fire hazard.
8. If you’re cold, keep moving. If you can’t feel your skin you’re in danger of frostbite and hypothermia. Get indoors anywhere until you warm up. Never try to unthaw by running hot water over frozen skin.
9. If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your animals. Keep them inside.
10. -42 celcius and -42 farenheit are the same.
11. In Canada cars have block heaters – there are plugs in the front to warm up your battery. Don’t have one of those mysterious plugs? Park the car in the garage or if you can’t, turn it on and run it every few hours. The battery will die and oil gets cold and slow in very cold weather.
12. If you are stranded in snow, make absolutely sure the tailpipe is clear before turning on the car. Like I said in #6, carbon monoxide kills.
13. If you heat with natural gas, and you’ve had a big dump of snow, make sure the gas meter isn’t covered – frozen gas meters can be deadly.
14. Also if you have a big dump of snow, watch out for snow build up and icicles. Weight of snow can collapse roofs, and icicles falling can kill.
15. Don’t let your kids build snow forts out of snow banks and particularly don’t let them play on them where they can slide onto a road.
16. Tree branches near power lines breaking often cause power outages. When possible (not in the middle of the winter in a storm!) have branches trimmed away from power lines if your power company hasn’t. Don’t do it yourself, have a professional do it.
18. Winter driving means going slowly, keeping good distance from the car in front of you, pressing gently (or tapping) the brakes, no jackrabbit acceleration. If you feel you car starting to spin, steer into the spin and keep looking at where you want to go not where the car is, take your foot off the accelerator but don’t brake suddenly. Gain control of the car and then get yourself back in the right spot. And if you’re like me, pull over when you can and stop shaking, lol.
19. And lastly, from a four years old’s (me) experience – don’t be tempted to lick icicles hanging from metal poles. Just don’t, lol.


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