Five winter safety tips for newcomers to Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: December 12, 2023

As many newcomers to Canada arrive here from countries with warmer weather patterns than we see in this country, this article will prepare newcomers with five essential tips and tricks to stay safe during the cold winter months.

Canada’s winters are a fun time for many newcomers to Canada, as it is often an opportunity to experience things that they might not otherwise experience in their home country. From sledding to building snowmen, there are many things to enjoy during Canada’s winter months.

Conversely, winters in this country are also known for cold and dry weather patterns, conditions that require Canadians to exercise caution with everything from when they go outside to what they wear during this time of the year. This is because staying safe is crucial to avoiding illnesses and making the most of the holiday season.

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Read on for five winter safety tips you should know to keep you and your family safe.

1. Check the forecast for your community

For work, school or any other reason we may need to leave the house during the winter, it is important to be prepared beforehand.

An important part of this wintertime preparedness comes from checking the daily forecast for your community or the area where you will be spending your time that day. For example, if you will be going to work or dropping your child off at school, your local forecast will allow you to be prepared for the weather conditions* you will face in your local community. Likewise, if you are travelling somewhere for work, checking the forecast in that area would provide the same benefits.

*Beyond checking the temperature outside, the Government of Canada recommends paying close attention to wind chill warnings as such warnings can indicate that the weather may be colder than expected

Canadians can check the forecast using many different methods, including local news broadcasts, weather apps on their cellphone and websites on the internet such as the Environment Canada website.

2. Dress warm

During the cold winter months in Canada, it is important to stay safe by dressing warmly. This is because dressing appropriately for the weather in Canada can help you avoid significant illnesses and conditions such as hypothermia or frostbite.

Click here to learn more about the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite, as well as what to do if you experience symptoms of either condition.

Most importantly, dressing warmly for the Canadian winter involves layering, which means wearing two or more items of clothing at the same time. During Canada’s winter season, this can help you stay dry, warm and comfortable.

To learn more about properly layer your clothing, visit this dedicated webpage on How to Dress for Canadian Weather.

More: Cold Weather Safety from the Government of Canada

3. Stay dry

Wet clothing is known to make the body cold more quickly. Therefore, it is vital for Canadians to stay dry in the winter, including from rain or sweat. To do this, you may want to travel with spare clothing in case you get wet from the rain or snow.

Additionally, if you feel you are starting to sweat, remove your outer layers of clothing or open your coat to cool yourself down.

Click here to learn more about appropriate clothing to wear during Canadian winters.

4. Keep active

Another way to avoid getting too cold is by staying active. In other words, good, low-intensity, exercise can be a worthwhile way to stay safe during the winter in Canada.

This is because activity helps your body stay warm by generating body heat. Examples of exercise that will help you generate body heat during the winter in Canada are running or walking, skating, tobogganing or cross-country skiing.

5. Seek shelter and limit time outside

When possible, it is recommended that Canadians try to seek shelter from the cold during the winter months and limit the time they spend outside, particularly when there is high wind chill outdoors.

Although there are times when going outside is unavoidable, checking the forecast (as discussed above) and staying indoors when able is a significant part of wintertime safety in Canada. The weather in this country is unpredictable, and during days and nights with strong winter-like cold conditions, it is best to avoid the outdoors when possible.

Winter in Canada

While it is important to remain aware of the safety tips included above, it is also crucial to understand that winter is one of Canada’s most unique and fun times of the year, especially for newcomers.

Winter is a time to take part in many quintessentially Canadian experiences such as viewing the Northern Lights. There is also a lot of fun to be had outdoors during the winter, from skiing and snowshoeing to ice fishing and skating.

A quick Google search can help you and your family find fun local activities to take part in this winter.

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