Winter officially starts on December 21, at least that’s what Google says. I wouldn’t actually know because for the past 14 years* we have been spending December to April travelling in Southern Mexico. That means that normally, right about now, when you’re unpacking your winter gear and snow suits, I’m packing our flip flops and bathing suits. Except this year.
Due to circumstances out of our control, we will be experiencing all the joys that Canadian winters have to offer. Quite the transition. The Kids are so excited to have the chance to make snow angels, go skating and tobogganing for the first time. As for myself, what I lack in enthusiasm, I make up for in planning and organization.
In turn, I’ve compiled a list of some high level categories and their associated sub-tasks that need to be addressed before the snow comes and decides to stay. Being prepared will ensure that everyone stays safe and warm and that we have the most successful winter possible. As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”.
Please, please, please share your tips below on how you prepare for winter so that all of us can have a fun winter (is that an oxymoron?).
Before you go and prepare for the Winterapocalypse that may or may not be coming, you should check and see what the weather experts are forecasting this year. Did you know that every year around this time, The Weather Network releases their forecast for what Canada can expect for the new few months!? How fabulous that they’ve taken the guesswork out of winter and provided us with information to ensure that we are prepared for the conditions and able to stay safe during the months that can sometimes be so varying and unpredictable. Like the past two days here in Eastern Ontario!
Turns out that the 2017 Winter Forecast was released on November, 21, 2016 at 9pm! Visit The Weather Network website or download “The Weather Network” app (available for iPhone, Android or Blackberry) for details. What kind of weather have they forecasted for your area?
Inside The House
Be sure to have your furnace, tanks and any other associated equipment inspected by a professional every year. Did you know that in Ontario, it’s the law! Check out Technical Standards and Safety Authority website (Ontario) or your Province regulatory body for details. Install weather stripping and switch out any screened doors/windows for glass. If you were thinking about putting in any extra insulation, now is the time to do it to save some extra money. I’ve put a rubber mat at the front door for people to put their wet boots so that it doesn’t get brought into the house and ruin the floors.
Outside The House
Turn off water access and blow out your outside taps. In our house, the shut of valve is in the basement but there is a portion of piping that goes outside the house and we wouldn’t that to freeze. If you have a wood fireplace, make sure that the chimney has been cleaned and that you have a good supply of firewood that is easily accessible.
Caring for your Machines
If you have a generator or snowblower, now is the time to give it a tune up and make sure you have plenty of fuel. Make sure that you have a good shovel (or two) and plenty of salt. If you won’t be maintaining your property yourself, make sure that you have an arrangement in place so that people come when you need them. Remember to change your windshield washer fluid and oil in your vehicles and make sure that you’ve checked your tire pressure *** and have installed snow tires (it’s the law in Quebec). Note that Ontario car insurance companies have started to give a policy discount if you have snow tires installed.
Enjoying the Outdoors
If you don’t want to hibernate, there are a lot of things to do that don’t necessarily cost a lot of money. Many people flood their own rinks so all you need is to bring your skates and maybe a thermos of hot chocolate. Thrift shops like our local House of Lazarus sell skates for a reasonable price and when you’re done with them, you can donate them back. They also have sleds for tobogganing, snow shoes and cross country equipment. We live on a 13 acres property so there is no shortage of trails or snow to keep us busy. I’ve been reading our local paper and there are lots of events coming like the annual CP Holiday Train that travels from Montreal to Port Moody and places in between. And, winter won’t be complete without an appearance at Winterlude and a beaver tail! P.S. That’s not a real beaver tail.
What We Wear
In order to make sure that you get the most out of the outdoors, you need to have the right clothes. The Weather Network’s app is really helpful in helping me decide how to dress the kids. Each of the kids have two pairs of snow pants, winter boots, a warm coat and extra scarves, hats and mitts. It’s great to have extras for when (not if!) they get wet and if they get misplaced. I’ve put a freestanding coat rack in the bathroom, right beside a vent where everyone will hang their wet clothing so that it will actually dry.
In the case that we get snowed in and/or lose power, I have an electric heater to keep us warm**, lots of food that won’t spoil and doesn’t need to be cooked like baked beans, peanut butter and jam, crackers, canned fruit and we can always put the ice cream outside. Or just eat it for breakfast.
No matter what winter throws at us this year, we’re doing everything in our power to be prepared. What about you?
How Do You Get Prepared for Winter?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) November 28, 2016
* We didn’t go in 2004 or 2009, the year The Kids were born
** We will run it off of our gas powered generator
*** Suggested by KD (in the comments)
Disclosure: Journeys of The Zoo received compensation in exchange for sharing this information.