Surviving Canada’s cold weather: Advice for every student

Photo of Led young College during winter

It’s really cold in Toronto right now, with temperatures forecast to hit more record lows. More pressingly, it’ll continue being cold throughout the months of January, February and March, interspersed with a few warm days to give us false hope.

If you’re coming to Led young College from another country, frigid weather is something you might not be used to. Here’s what you need to know about the cold and how to prepare for it.

The cold is dangerous

There’s more to being out in the cold than just being uncomfortable. It’s really bad for you, and if you stay out in it for too long, you can run into serious health problems. that can harm you if you don’t bundle up in these conditions.

Depending on the temperature, you can get frostbite within 10 minutes of exposure. Frostbite happens when your body is working hard to keep you warm and winds up abandoning parts of it. Exposed ears, fingers and nose are where it starts, and, without going into detail, terrible things can happen to them – even toes inside inadequate footwear. If any of those areas start to turn red and hurt, you should get indoors immediately. If you lose feeling and colour in those areas, seek medical help right away.

Layering is important

So, how do you make sure hypothermia doesn’t happen to you? The answer is getting the right gear and layering. First of all, , always keep your hands and feet covered with boots and gloves, and keep those feet layered with at least two pairs of socks.

While getting a big winter jacket is a good move, it’s better to wear a lot of thin layers, rather than a few thick ones. They insulate better and can be easily removed if you get just a little too warm. Another area that people forget about is their legs. Wear warm pants, and consider putting a second layer over your lower half, too, such as sweatpants.

Cover your head and face

It’s wise to wear a scarf and tie it around your face (it’s more than just fashionable) and keep your ears and head covered with a good hat, or what Canadians call a toque. There are even hats with built-in facemasks. Remember, your ears can get frostbitten, too!

Make sure you’re wearing the right clothes

, you want those boots to be insulated with wool or synthetic fibres, and not cotton. You can even purchase your own lining to add to them. Wool is also the material your socks should be made out of.

Bring two pairs of shoes

If you’re travelling to a setting where wearing boots all day isn’t convenient (say, a place with a dress code), wear your boots outside, and bring your shoes with you in a bag. It’s better to carry extra shoes than to literally freeze your toes off.

More helpful tips to stay warm in frigid weather:

  • Stay dry! Wet clothing and boots chill the body rapidly and you’ll be very uncomfortable.
  • Walk briskly outside to help generate body heat.
  • Using alcohol, tobacco and certain medications will increase your susceptibility to cold.
  • If you suspect frostbite, warm the affected area gradually; use body heat, or warm water (but not hot water). Avoid direct heat, which can burn the skin.
  • Listen to or find the weather forecast before heading outdoors; pay particular attention to temperature and wind chill warnings. The wind is not your friend during the winter.

By Anthony Geremia and Mark Toljagic