A man and his daughter smiling in winter

Tips to survive winter

A beautiful landscape under a fresh layer of sparkling snow sure is breathtaking. While the first days of snow can be memorable, the enchantment may not last long if we’re not ready to face the cold.  Here are some tips to stay warm and cozy all throughout your first Canadian winter.

Wear warm winter boots

With the first snowy days, you ought to be wearing winter boots especially designed for cold weather that are warm, well insulated and with soles that grip. Once you get back inside, place your boots near a heat source to help them dry out. If you live in an urban area and spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure your boots are waterproof and buy rainboots for warmer or late winter days. As the temperatures fluctuate, snow melts and it becomes slush and can create giant deep puddles, especially around street corners.

Take your boots off indoors

If your boots are well insulated and warm, they might not let the dampness caused by your sweat to dry. To avoid cold and wet feet, choose socks that are made of a thin, absorbent material, like merino wool or polyester. If you’re going to be somewhere for a while, bring a pair of shoes you can change into – allowing your feet to breathe and your boots to dry. If you know that you’ll be somewhere without coat check (like a restaurant), wear boots made from a more breathable material, even if they are slightly less warm.

Tread carefully

Accidents can happen at any moment. A bad fall can have long-term, serious consequences that may even require lengthy medical follow-up and even extensive rehabilitation or physiotherapy. Walk slowly in winter and check out the surface you’ll be walking on before boldly heading forward, even if your boots have grip. Icy sidewalks can be far more slippery than they appear, especially if they’ve been partially cleared and a light layer of snow dusts over them.

For some tips on what to do if you fall or witness a fall, this article from the Government of Canada may prove helpful.

Use a humidifier

Central heating has an incredible drying effect on ambient air indoors. If humidity levels are too low, it can irritate your skin, dry out your eyes and nostrils or even worsen existing respiratory problems. If possible, try to control humidity levels with either a cool or warm humidifier. Make sure though, not to exceed a 50% humidity level, because too much humidity might increase the volume of allergens and bacteria in the air that are bad for your respiratory system.

Seal air leaks

There are several ways you can improve the insulation of your house to seal or reduce the flow of cold air that can make you uncomfortable and affect your health. For windows, you can apply insulating window film or use removable weather stripping where you detect cold air currents. You can also buy curtains that have a thermal lining that help protect against cold in winter and heat in summer. For external doors, make sure the caulking is in good repair and if not, replace it.

Dress warmly


A warm coat may not be enough to keep you comfortable when the temperature dips well below freezing. Here are some tips on dressing properly to retain your body heat:

  • Buy long underwear or tights that fit easily under your pants, that you can then remove indoors.
  • If you’re wearing a skirt or a dress, invest in a good pair of woollen stockings or wear warm leggings over your tights when outdoors.
  • Keep your hands warm by choosing mittens over gloves – keeping your fingers separated also keeps them less warm.
  • Always wear a tuque, ear muffs or a headband to keep your ears well protected against frostbite. A wide scarf is also useful to help keep your face protected against the wind.

Watch out for the sun!

Did you know that snow reflects about 85% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays? Even though the sun is far less strong during the winter months, it can still be harmful to your skin and eyes. That’s why it’s important to keep wearing sunscreen and sunglasses, even on cloudy days. Long-term exposure to the sun’s rays can have serious consequences for your vision and may contribute to the onset of skin cancer.

Check out our tips to protect yourself from the sun while travelling.

Light therapy

Reduced hours of daylight in the winter can affect people who are sensitive to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To mitigate against this or lessen its symptoms, invest in a light-therapy lamp. If used regularly, the treatment can help improve your mood, boost your energy and set your internal clock back on track for better, more restful sleep. You should remember that consistency is extremely important to ensure its efficiency. Schedule a daily morning session of at least 20 minutes with your lamp (you can even read or work while you’re doing it), and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions as well as your doctor or pharmacist’s recommendations.

Lean more about how SAD can affect your health.

Take vitamin D

Our bodies produce between 80% and 90% of the vitamin D we need when we’re exposed to the sun. As we know, though, that exposure drops significantly during the winter months and so does your vitamin D levels might fall which can have an impact on your overall health and your ability to absorb nutrients. That’s why it is generally recommended to take vitamin D supplements during the winter. Ask your pharmacist to help you choose which to take and how much, so that you that you don’t do more harm than good.


Don’t forget insurance

Accidents can happen at any time, and the cost of medical care can add up quickly. To truly enjoy a worry-free winter, don’t forget to buy a health insurance plan that will have you covered as soon as you land in Canada.

Learn more about our insurance for visitors to Canada.