10 Tips to Help You Survive Even the Toughest Winter

Make sure you wear the right clothes and boots for winter weather.
Make sure you wear the right clothes and boots for winter weather.

By Lori Bosworth

[Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Dickies Canada.]

Okay, we have to face facts. The summer weather is long gone and fall has been fleeting…you were lucky if you got to see fall colours in bloom this year due to the ups and downs in temperature. It’s time for a reality check: winter is on the way! Short days, dark nights and mornings and never-ending cold. It’s enough to make you want to hide under the covers.

We have some simple tips for you to not only survive the winter, but actually enjoy it [gasp!]. Here are some life hacks that will prepare you for the worst winter that Canada can deliver.

Make sure you wear the right clothes and boots for winter weather.
Make sure you wear the right clothes and boots for winter weather.

1. Wear the Right Clothes for Winter

Whether you are working in the city or hiking across the wilderness there are ways to dress correctly. Of course, living in Toronto means we don’t have to worry so much about outdoor survival, however, cold winter winds can still send chills through your body. Lightweight layers are a great solution wherever you are since the thinner layers will allow you to trap insulating air between them, and of course, you can remove extra layers when indoors. Fleece jackets and jumpers should be a staple of your winter wardrobe for everyday casual wear. Light and quick drying, they provide excellent warmth.

2. Remember to Stay Dry

Even if you are wearing layers, if you allow yourself to become saturated with snow, your clothes will not provide any thermal protection. Ensure you have a waterproof outer layer, preferably using a breathable technical fabric. Fabrics like Gore-Tex are highly water- and wind-proof, but still allow moisture to escape. A light waterproof layer will ensure you maximize your other layers and will prevent wind-chill, which can cause the outside temperature to be considerably lower.

3. Keep Upright

Ice and snow can be treacherous for walking unless you have a good pair of boots. Make sure your boots have a good solid tread to prevent slipping on an unexpected patch of ice. Fortunately, there are many stylish winter boots to choose from, so leave your heels for the indoors rather than ending up in the emergency room as a result of a fall. Believe me, I know from experience!

Walking is a great way to stay fit in winter, photo Lori Bosworth
Walking is a great way to stay fit in winter, photo Lori Bosworth

4. Keep Active

With shorter days and longer nights, it is too easy to hibernate on the couch all winter. But the combination of delicious holiday food and reduced activity may leave you susceptible to catching a cold or flu. We have so many public skating rinks in Toronto that we can enjoy and we’re only an hour away from some great ski hills. Even walking along the trails in our Toronto parks will keep you fit. So embrace winter and get outside to stay active. Spring will be here before you know it and you will already be in shape for the warmer weather.

5. Prevent Winter Colds and Flu

Science tells us that cold weather doesn’t cause the common cold, however, despite this, many of us catch colds in the winter. There are some preventative measure you can take such as taking a Vitamin D supplement, Since we have reduced exposure to the sun in the winter, we need to take extra Vitamin D to maintain strong and healthy bones, as well as help the immune system’s T-cells to fight viruses and bacteria. Look for a supplement that contains both vitamins C and D.

Check roof tiles for leaks and clear eaves to prepare for winter.
Check roof tiles for leaks and clear eaves to prepare for winter.

6. Prepare Your House for Winter

Ensure your home is ready for winter by repairing leaks and any exterior problems. Inspect roof tiles and gutters to ensure they are draining properly, and check for any drafts or leaks at windows to prevent heat loss. You can caulk cracks around windows or seal leaks with duct tape to prevent cold air entering. Don’t forget to have your furnace and hot water systems serviced. A bit of preventative maintenance can save you from expensive breakdowns, as well as keep you warm at night.

7. Service Your Car for Winter

After you’ve winterized you house, your car is next. Ensure you have enough antifreeze to top up the radiator. Make an appointment to get your snow tires installed and check your tire pressure often since cold weather can reduce the pressure in your tires. Change your wiper blades and ensure you have windshield wiper fluid in your vehicle for icy conditions. For really icy car windows, mix 2 parts Isopropyl alcohol, 1 part lukewarm water and 1 Tablespoon of dish soap in a spray bottle and spray on windows. The ice will melt within a few minutes. It is also important to check oil levels ensuring you have the correct oil for the season. If you are unsure, have your car serviced by your local garage to prevent winter breakdowns.

8. Have a Survival Pack Ready

If you remember the ice storm we had in the GTA in December 2013 that resulted in a massive hydro outage, you probably now have a survival pack on hand in your house and car. If you don’t, here are a few reminders: Ensure you have a fully charged cell phone in your car – perhaps you have an older phone kicking around. Even if it is not registered on the network, you can still dial 911 on it in an emergency. Pack a good flashlight in case you need to change a tire. Purchase a cost-effective LED unit, which provides powerful light when you need it. Blankets, water, and food e.g. energy bars will be handy in case you get stuck in a snowstorm. At home, you can prepare a survival pack that includes water and non-perishable food (canned tuna, canned baked beans, nuts, peanut butter, granola bars, dried cereal, crackers, canned or bottled juices). Flashlights, batteries, candles and a battery-powered radio are other necessary items to have in your survival pack. Be careful when using candles as there are over 800 candle fires each year in Canada.

9. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Moisturizer is like having an emergency survival pack for your skin: it is essential to protect and hydrate your skin during the cold and snowy days of winter. Listen up men, because you need moisturizer too! Winter’s dry air can lead to dry, chapped skin, redness and other issues. Get into the habit of applying moisturizer on your face and hands before you go out into the cold. And don’t forget your gloves to keep your hands soft and smooth.

10. Get Away From It All

Hate the bad weather? Fortunately, when it’s cold here, it’s hot somewhere else. Winter is a great time for an affordable break, often vacation prices are lower (except March break) and the benefits of leaving the cold weather are worth the effort.

Just make sure you pack for the great weather, but ensure you have your warm winter coat for when you return. Of course, that’s assuming you do plan to return!

I hope you stay healthy and safe with these tips to help you survive winter.


  1. I hope you stay safe and healthy this winter too. I really dread winter. I hate the cold. I take extra vitamins and I still run outside even in the cold. Being prepared for winter makes it easier to deal with.

  2. All so important but #10 is my favorite, now if only returning was optional lol. Thanks for the great list!

  3. Great Tips for the winter – especially as I always feel cold! I will be shopping for fleece and Gore-Tex!

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