The season of winter, an amazing time indeed

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ISTOCK (SHAUNL)
Winter is just around the corner. Are you ready?

As we transition into colder conditions over the next few months with leaves turning, shorter days and snow coming, it’s good to think about the upcoming season, winter, and both the good and bad sides to that amazing season.

Winter, to those who have experienced it, can be one part magical, one part tons of fun and one part shoveling (if you’ve ever lived where you need to). To those that haven’t, you’re in for a treat, as it can be very magical with the first snowfall.

There is tons to do in the winter in Canada in my experience, from sledding to ice skating, to hockey and snowmobiling and much more. With lots of activities around London, Fanshawe campus and in the province at large and further, I would do an online hunt to see what’s available, and how to get there.

On the note of it getting colder, with hearing the international students (some of whom are classmates), are asking and wondering, what is best for me to wear? Having been born in Northern Ontario, I’ve experienced a lot of winters, and have been through the cold and warm. Best advice is to layer. Layering with clothes made of materials that breathe, will help you get through the winter without too many problems.

Starting from the top of your body, make sure you have a cover such as a hat, preferably a toque; next is your neck, where having a warm scarf is really important, especially when the wind blows up or it gets ultra-cold.

For your chest area, it’s a good idea to have a lower layer that is lightweight. To build onto it, a light sweater is a good start. A waterproof top layer will be fantastic to keep the chill out (how many layers depends on how cold it is).

Gloves or mitts are recommended, ensuring that your digits don’t freeze. For the lower layer, it’s good to go with something that moves. I tend to go towards khakis, yoga pants or jogging pants. Without adding a layer of yoga pants or thermal underwear, I found jeans tend to freeze in colder weather.

For footwear, make sure it has grip, as you’ll need it when it gets slick. Socks are a good idea, specifically wool socks for colder days. If you’re dressing up to go anywhere, make sure your core (chest/upper torso) is warm, so concentrate the layers there, and make sure to have gloves and a scarf (which can be turned into a toque if needed).

A question that came up too was skin care, and my best advice is to keep hydrated, use products that hydrate the skin, and keep covered as the wind can dry out the skin quite quickly.

Now that we have the layers covered, beyond the beautiful white stuff, conditions can be challenging. A rule I learned up north is that if it’s sunny and clear in winter, it’ll likely be cold, so keep that in mind. Depth of snow can be deceiving, as a snowbank that looks like it may hold your weight, or a yard that looks like there is not much snow, could contain a lot of snow, and you could sink in quite a bit.

Roads can be slick, and there is the phenomenon known as ‘black ice’, which is ice that looks clear, and can look like a freshly-cleared road, or a supposedly clear of snow sidewalk. It can be very dangerous, and years ago I broke my ankle on such a sidewalk. Taking extra time, both while walking and driving (if driving, make sure to give extra room when following a vehicle in front of you), is essential.

Frostbite and hypothermia are big issues in the winter, with the risks of freezing exposed skin and the lowering of the body’s core temperature. Both are dangerous issues that can be exacerbated by very cold conditions, excessive drinking and not dressing right for conditions.

Speaking of driving and vehicles, vehicle maintenance is very important in the colder conditions. Changing over to winter tires below seven degrees is a good idea, plus ensuring that you talk to your mechanic about getting it winterized, will save you money in the long run, and help you drive safer in the ever-changing conditions.

Winter can be a great time, with lots of fun and beautiful conditions, however it is good to be dressed for the weather and to be prepared for whatever may happen, so you can enjoy the season safely and healthily.