By Clarice Royandoyan, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer
 
Three years ago, I encountered my first winter in Canada and to this day I still remember the very first snowflake that fell on my hand. It was magical. 

However, my fascination quickly turned into horror as I found myself walking through 20 cm deep snow embraced by the minus 30°C temperature. This is how my home city, Winnipeg, jolted me into the realities of winter. Or as Winnipeggers called it, ‘Winterpeg’.

Coming from a tropical country which has only two seasons - wet and dry - winter was new for me, my husband, and our two young sons. Harshness of weather was nothing new to me. Back home in Philippines we were used to typhoons and experiencing disasters, however learning to deal firsthand with winter still proved tough.  
Liam and Kai- Clarice's sons in snow
Before coming to Manitoba, I did not know what dressing in layers meant. But the extreme cold taught me very quickly why it is important to properly layer clothing. Keeping warm suddenly become more important than style, as it was essential to avoid getting frostbite or experiencing hypothermia. Because of this, I got to know the different types of winter gear I needed, including: the right jacket, a toque that protects my head, gloves to keep my hands warm, scarf to shield my neck, and proper boots to avoid falling and injuries.

One of the first things that I have learned, and has perhaps become a habit, is to constantly keep updated with the weather. I check the forecast for the week before making plans with my family so I know what attire to bring. This way, we are always prepared to deal with any event or change in weather.

Three years is a short period of time, and every year, I still learn something new. As a Digital Volunteer for the Canadian Red Cross, I have come to know about the importance of being ready for winter storms. Visiting the Canadian Red Cross website regularly has proved really helpful. I learned practical tips like making sure that walls, doors and windows of my house are properly insulated, that rock salt and sand can help melt ice, and shovels should always be within reach. Liam and Kai- Clarice's sons

Part of being prepared for winter means being ready for power outage or even flooding. This is why home emergency kits and having an emergency plan my whole family knows about are essential. When preparing the car for winter, I learned it needs to be equipped with its own emergency kit that include blankets, warm clothing, and extra jackets. The vehicle should have a battery booster, snow brush, washer fluid, flashlight, a foldable shovel, and of course maintain a full tank of gas.

Another essential tip is to avoid working or being outside for long periods of time during extreme weather. It is important to remember that when clearing the snow, it is best to take breaks regularly to warm up and rest to avoid overexertion.

Winters in Manitoba can be harsh, but with the proper knowledge and the right preparedness, I learnt that the winter season can still be enjoyable and magical.  


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