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  • Manini Sethi

Winter Check List

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Winters in Cape Breton can get extremely chilly, especially for someone not used to typical Canadian winters. If you are planning to travel to Cape Breton in the winter season (December to February) from a relatively warmer region, it's very important to pack accordingly.

Cape Breton often sees temperatures going all the way down to -15°C with abundant snowfall. February is usually the coldest month of the year and had an average temperature of -5°C last year. Winters in Cape Breton are very beautiful and the island is definitely worth exploring in this season.

Sydney on 3rd January, 2021. Photo Credits: Tom Joseph

Not only is it important to keep the weather in mind while pack clothes, but it is also very important to make sure your car and homes are also equipped for the low temperatures.

1) What to Pack

While most indoor spaces (including CBU campus, buses, grocery stores etc) are almost always air conditioned, it is still very important to dress warm even when you don't plan on being outdoors for too long. Since the temperature outside is literally freezing cold and you may have to wait for buses, walk from your car/bus to your destination or even if you're going from one campus building to another.

Here's how you can ensure you're protected from the cold weather:

Dress in Layers: For example, your three layers could be a tee shirt as a base layer, a fleece or puffer jacket as a second layer and a winter overcoat or jacket as a third layer. If you're planning on going on a trek, hike or skiing trip, you may also want to consider layering up your pants. My personal recommendation would be to wear a pair of warm leggings (such as the ones sold at Just Cozy in Mayflower mall in Sydney) below your regular jeans or tack pants.

Wear a winter jacket: Marks, Winners and Walmart are stores you should consider checking out if you don't already have a winter jacket and want to get a new one. It may also be a good idea to check the temperature range on the jacket to ensure it'll keep you warm when you need it.

Wear Winter Boots: This is an absolute necessity for winters in Cape Breton. In my opinion, you should always step out in winter boots when there's black ice outside- even if you're only planning on taking a few steps outdoors. That's all it takes for a big fall. Call it Spring may be a good place to get winter boots. You can also check out Walmart and Timberlands.

Gloves, muffs and caps- Getting insulated gloves may be a good idea if you plan on going out in the snow often. You may also need to wear ear muffs and caps to keep your ears and head warm. Dollarama in Mayflower Mall might be worth checking out.

2) If you drive

Driving lessons: If you've never driven in snow before, it may be a good idea to take a few driving lessons before you hit the road by yourself. (Consider Young Drivers driving school). Snowfall may impair visibility and increase stopping distances and therefore increase the chance of an accident.

Street Parking ban: CBRM has a street parking ban from December 15 to March 31 during 1:00 AM to 6:00AM to allow snow removal vehicles to clear the roads. You can find the complete list of areas where street parking is banned in Nova Scotia *here*.

Fuel efficiency in winters: Fuel economy usually drops in the winter but there are several tips you can keep in mind to help reduce this:

When possible, park your car in a warmer place like a garage. This will help your car reach a fuel efficient temperature faster

Decrease idle time and avoid warming your car up before you start driving.

Check your tire pressure regularly. If the tire pressure is too high or too low it can decrease your mileage.

3) Your Home:

If you're staying in an all inclusive rental accommodation, you may be required to pay higher rent in the winter season. If your heating bill is included in your rent you should consider discussing the winter rent with landlord beforehand.

Irrespective of weather or not your heating bill is included in your rent, In the winter you should ensure that heat isn't escaping from your house from open windows, doors etc.

You should also ensure that the smoke alarm in your home is working. If you stay in a house (as opposed to an apartment building) and are responsible for your own drive way you may also want to keep a shovel and ice melt handy for your drive way handy.

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