For those who might not be familiar with Ottawa, winter can offer its share of merciless days in terms of bad weather conditions. As a result, roads and driving conditions can get pretty treacherous.
If we hit a weather pattern of several days of heavy snow or freezing rain (or both), I tend to go out only if I really have to. And on those days when I have to go to work, I stick to the essentials: a commute to the office and back, and that’s it. I won’t do errands on the way home.
It’s just a question of safety… well… that and the fear of getting stuck in a parking lot where a plow hasn’t arrived to remove the snow which continues to pile up.
For that reason, I tend to stock up on certain items to ensure I have a decent supply on hand, and to not stress out if my errand schedule goes topsy-turvy when Mother Nature and Old Man Winter get cranky.
Here they are, my top 10 errands in preparation for winter:
10. Flu shot
Getting a flu shot is not so much a weather dependent preparation, it is just a seasonal one for which I feel a need to make time for it, to avoid the flu, avoid the line-ups and maintain good health through the winter season.
9. Snow tires
Local garages are usually run off their feet at this time of year as many drivers book an appointment to have winter tires installed on their vehicles. Given how bad the weather can get, I couldn’t imagine driving without them anymore.
8. Kitty litter
It’s not that there is a direct correlation between my cat’s bodily functions and weather patterns, it’s just that when bad weather prevails, icy sidewalks and parking lots can make walking with a 30 pound bag of cat litter a winter hazard in itself. For that reason, I much prefer buying an extra bag or two when the pavement and sidewalks are clear and dry.
7. Road salt
When weather conditions turn dangerously icy, everyone seems to be out buying road salt, to help melt icy driveways and walk ways, and keep them as safe as possible. When bad weather hits and stores start running out, I don’t want to be spending more time on the roads driving around from store to store. To me, stocking up before bad weather strikes is the way to do it.
Plus, in the middle of winter, after a steady cycle of shoveling heavy snow from my driveway, hauling around big bags of anything, whether kitty litter or road salt could be enough to push me to additional visits to the chiropractor. I would rather buy a little more ahead of time when my back feels great, and stay ahead of the game.
6. Christmas Shopping
As I discussed in the post “How I Became an Early Christmas Shopper”, I just don’t have the constitution anymore for Christmas shopping when the malls and stores are brimming with shoppers, when parking lots are full, and tempers are running short. If you add to the equation the possibility of losing a few ideal shopping days due to bad winter weather, the only way to stay ahead is to start shopping earlier. I don’t necessarily mean earlier to the point of shorts and t-shirts weather and Christmas trees in August, but just early enough to stay ahead of the game.
It’s not that I plan to get hammered if I get snowed in and can’t leave the house, it’s just a question of not having to waste precious time in a line-up at the liquor store during the month of December, in peak holiday party season.
4. Moisturizer and lip balm
With more time spent indoors, where the furnace-heated air can get as dry as the desert, it’s a wonder that I don’t look like a prune by the time we get to spring. My skin gets so dry and flaky, if I lean over a fish tank, the fish think it’s feeding time. Thankfully, moisturizers, lip balms (and drinking lots of water) seem to keep me and my skin from becoming a total flake. Stocking up ahead of time is a must.
Regular readers know how much I love my Nespresso coffee. But there was that one time my supply of capsules got dangerously low and the forecast called for several consecutive days of bad weather, making a trip to the Nespresso store impossible. That will never happen again! Fortunately, their online ordering system is fast and easy, or alternatively, I go to a Nespresso boutique and buy a big batch before the bad weather hits.
I’m not usually one to let the fridge go empty, but the last place I want to be before a big snowfall is a grocery store. Before weather forecasters start throwing around words like “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse” and creating panic, it’s not a bad idea to top up the food supply with a few day-to-day essentials to be sure I’m not caught short and forced to run out when I would prefer to stay in.
1. Winter weather clothing
There is no worse feeling than putting on winter clothes as you rush out the door, only to find that half of a pair is missing, something doesn’t fit, or that something needs “freshening up” (even though you could have sworn you washed it before putting it away for the season). Either way, before winter weather starts, I plan a quick fashion show of winter coats, scarves, sweaters, gloves and tuques to make sure everything still fits and remains in fine working condition.
If it turns out to be a mild winter with less snow than usual and I am able to run weekly errands without interruption, going to these lengths may seem like a waste of time, but at least I am never caught shorthanded on the essentials.
But on a day when there is freezing rain or heavy snow in the forecast, I just have to make it to office and back. When I have these items knocked off my to-do list ahead of time, it is always reassuring to know that I retain the option to snub my nose at the weather, stay in, and minimize my exposure to the harsh reality of a Canadian winter.
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