Canadian winters can be brutal. Anyone who has lived here for over a year knows that the bitter cold and harsh conditions make it difficult to leave the house during winter without donning at least five layers.
But doesn't stop us Canucks from going out to take photos, tobogganing, building snowmen, and taking pride in the land that we call home.
Still, we must exercise caution when handling some of nature's curveballs during the coldest season to prevent injuries. Ice formation is one of these curveballs for which we must prepare to avoid everything from a minor slip to a serious car accident.
Read on for tips to defrost your home and car this January and avoid a nasty fall.
Outside your home...
Ensure that ice doesn't block your gutters or downspouts to avoid a buildup of snow on your rooftops.
Salt your driveways to get rid of any ice that could cause slipping when you walk to your car in the morning before heading out with your camera. Do the same to any stretch of sidewalk outside your house, and your porch to make it easier for everyone to get to your front door.
On the road...
Avoid driving on roads that have not been cleared yet if possible. Stick to roads where your car has more traction… and please, when out in the country looking for that perfect spot to take that sunrise or sunset photo, be mindful that there are deep gutters on the side of country roads. Pulling off to far can leave you in the ditch in the middle of nowhere REALLY fast.
Reduce your speed. Snow and ice increase the time it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop when you hit the brakes. Reducing your speed will make it easier to brake in advance so that you're always in control of your car.
Use winter tires. The grip on winter performance and studless tires help keep your vehicle from skidding on the road.
Practice anti-skidding maneuvers. Knowing how to regain control of your car after a skid is a lifesaving skill. Honing this ability will give you a sense of comfort should you need to drive down an icy road this winter.
Take the ice off your car. Clearing your vehicle of snow before your morning drive might be tiring, but a thorough clean will give you the clearest view of the road once you get behind the wheel. Don't forget to remove ice from the top of your car as well! If you don't, it could fall off while you're driving at higher speeds, and hit another car.
Carry lock de-icing fluid with you. You don't want to be stranded in a parking lot because your car doors are frozen shut. A small bottle of de-icer should help in such a situation.
On the lake...
Check the thickness of the ice you want to walk on. It should be at least 10 centimetres thick if you want to walk on it, and at least 40 cm deep if you want to drive your vehicle on the ice.
Check the colour of the ice. Blue ice is the strongest, while white ice is less safe. When walking on white ice, check its depth every hundred meters to avoid walking on thin ice. Grey ice should be avoided, as it indicates the presence of liquid water or slush close to the surface.
Carry rescue claws. These Wolverine-esque tools will help you climb out of the lake should the ice suddenly break underneath your feet. You won't need them if you're smart about where you tread, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
If you're driving on the lake with friends, park your cars far apart from each other.
I hope that gives you some things to remember as you venture out in our winter wonderland!