Home and Family

What You Need to Know to Get Through Your First Cold Winter

When the weather outside is frightful, you know you’re supposed to prepare your beautiful family by doing…something. Look, you’ve never done this before. It wasn’t even beginning to get cold when you moved here! There must be things to do to prepare. But what? If you’ve not been raised in ice and snow, it’s important to know what to expect and how to best prepare your family for their first winter in a cold climate region.

Dressing for the Weather

If you’ve never lived in a cold weather climate before, the first thing you’ve got to learn about winter is how to layer. Your intent is for your base layer (the layer closest to your skin) to be breathable but keep your skin as dry as possible. Specialty wicking fabrics can do this, but summer underthings, of cotton, keep cold water close to the skin instead. This is not what you want if you fall down in icy weather! Your second layer is your insulating layer (that’s your warm stuff, like fleece). This is topped with a layer which will not allow wind and wet to get through to the other layers. Your shirt and pants should also be made of fabric which will wick water away from the skin, rather than natural materials. Socks should be a combination of wicking and insulating materials! Research what is best for each activity if you plan on winter sports and borrow or buy what you need.

Driving in the Snow

Driving in snow is a learned skill, just as driving in extreme rain can be. Snow tends to have slippery patches and can cause damage to your car or yourself if you try to stop quickly. It is smart to carry cat litter in your trunk in case you accidentally get stuck in the snow and need more traction. It’s also smart to carry both extra jackets and hats in case of emergency, and a shovel. You will need to winterize your car by changing to snow tires, which will give you a huge advantage in traction and safety in the snow and icy weather. In most areas you are not required to use chains, but it’s important to have them in mountainous climates. Please practice putting them onto and taking them off your car in your driveway, so that when you need them, you are prepared. You need a great ice scraper for your car, as well!

Keeping Your House Warm

Everybody wants to save money in the winter, but it’s essential to keep your house warm enough that you don’t accidentally create issues that will cost money instead. If your home temperature is too low, your pipes can freeze, which can cause costly breaks. You want to be warm, but not spend too much money on electricity. This is a tricky balance! Around 68 degrees is a good temperature to aim for in winter, in order to protect both your pipes and your family from the chill.

Preventing Winter Damage

Things like mud, dirt, and leaves can cause damage when they freeze over in your driveway in the wintertime, so you will want to remove them in advance of freezing weather. Likewise, you need to remove ice and snow when it does appear on your driveway. This prevents standing water from refreezing and causing more cracks in your asphalt. Temperature variations can cause asphalt to expand or contract. De-icing your driveway is always a good idea.

The Best Boots

If your feet are warm, you can manage a lot better in even the worst winter snow. Invest in a high quality pair of boots if you plan on spending many years in colder climes. They will protect your feet, but also your wallet, because you will not need to replace them as often. As always, making sure they are waterproof and well maintained will matter to the health of your feet. There are fleece and other interchangeable linings which are available for different styles of boots. Buying a size larger to make room for comfy, thick socks is a consideration you might want to make.

Check Your House for Drafts

Every house has some air seepage from outside to inside, but it’s essential to minimize this in order to keep warm. If you have an air conditioning window unit that can be taken out and stored until summer, now is the time to do so. Windows might need extra caulking, or insulation kits to help them to be as warm as possible. If requested, often your electric company can send someone out to check your home for drafts and see what areas might have things which can be repaired in order to save money on bills in winter.

Prepare Ahead for Emergencies

You probably will not face a winter emergency, but preparing ahead for both your home and car, and knowing signs of danger, will help you have a sense of calm should the need for action arise. Knowing the signs of frostbite in hands and feet, for instance, can help you safeguard your loved ones when out playing in the snow and ice. Knowing what to do should you see signs of cold related injuries is just as important as should you see heat stroke or dehydration in summer. Both extremes mean the body is not regulating properly due to dramatic weather disparity and should be helped as soon as possible.

Winter, when you’re not accustomed to a cold one, can be a challenge, but also an adventure. By making sure your family is prepared ahead, you will feel more calm, knowing what to expect. Instead of complaining about being too cold, your family will have toasty feet, warm bodies, and a prepared home. They will have prepared safety equipment and a car ready to travel in ice and snow. Most importantly, they can get back to enjoying new experiences in their beautiful new wintery region!

Read this next: How to Make Your Family Home Winter-Ready

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