Now’s the time to prepare for the rapidly coming Winter.

When some people read this they’re going to find themselves thinking, “What the hell?  It’s only bloody August!”  And only a few years ago they would have been absolutely right to think that.  After all, less than a decade ago, the idea of three white Christmas’ in a row would have been almost unthinkable.  Well for the last three Christmas’ I’ve found myself staring out at a cold, miserable country blanketed in white. So it is perhaps time for Irish people to grow up a little and admit to one simple truth.

We no longer have what was a temperate climate.

That being the case, and considering the chaos sown by the last three years of snow, ice and other forms of cold based insanity, let’s grab the bull by the horns and get ready for it all now. Not like the last three years where as a nation we ended up scrambling to play catch up, when it was already too late.

So what do I feel we need to do to prepare?  Well here is a list of what I intend to do over the coming weeks.  This is far from an exhaustive list, and is one I formed over Christmas of last year.

1. Buy a snow shovel.  While they’re still almost impossible to find in the average Irish hardware store, they’re quite easy to find on Amazon.com.  These are lightweight shovels designed specifically to move large amounts of snow from a driveway both quickly, and efficiently.  Yes you can use a heavier garden or builders spade, but remember you’re going to be clearing a relatively large area of snow, and that spade is going to feel like it weighs a tonne by the time you’re done, and then you still have to get into your car to go to work.

2. Start buying grit, or at a pinch sharp sand to mix with salt now.  You want to get this when there’s little demand, and thus no shortage of supply or inflated prices.

3. Get your car serviced, buy anti-freeze and put it in at the first warning of even a hard frost.  Oh and how about getting a cover for it as well?  Last Winter I remember frantically brushing huge amounts of snow off of a car, then an equally frantic ten minutes of scraping at least half an inch of ice off of the front and rear windscreen.  All that could have been so easily avoided by just covering the damn thing.  There are car covers made specifically for snowy conditions and while you will still have to sweep off the snow at least you won’t end up with grazes and sore hands from scrapping the ice off.  On another note, do clear all the snow off your car before you drive away, all the extra snow is extra weight which will only increase your fuel consumption.

4. An extendable pole with a right-angled blade at the end.  This is for safely knocking icicles off of eaves.  Seriously, I’m not joking about this.  People are frequently hurt by falling ice when a thaw sets in, and I truly intend to not be one of them.  So an extendable pole with something like a windows wiper on the end is our friend here.  Just be very careful to knock the icicles away from you and anyone else.

5. Falling hard in to soft unpacked snow is funny, falling on ice really isn’t.  That is unless you’re exceptionally well padded it hurts like hell and could even lead to serious injury.  So why not get something to put over your shoes that will add some grip while you walk?  Or alternatively a pair of budget trekking poles.  They’re not overly expensive but they may well save your ass from being in a cast for the rest of the Winter.

6. If you’re a pet owner make sure that your pets bedding will be warm enough for them.  House pets are soft creatures, we’ve made them that way.  So give them the same consideration you would give a young child, after all they can’t make their home warmer themselves due to a shortage of opposable thumbs.

7. Get your heating system checked out now, when you don’t need it at all.  I don’t even want to imagine how horrific last Winter would have been without working heating. It probably would have been made more horrific still if the heating had cut out randomly in the middle of the cold spell.  Better to have any problems sort out now, while it’s still warm when a week or three with no heating will mean little, or no trouble for you and your family.

There are probably a thousand and one other things which could be added to this list, and please feel free to add anymore you think are important.  But regardless, what is most important is to be prepared for the worst, and not get caught flat-footed by another white Winter.  After all we’ve had the coldest Summer in 50 years this year, that following the coldest Winter on record.  So it seems rather likely we may well be in for another bloody white Christmas, whether we want it or not.

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