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Nearly a foot of snow blankets Victoria, 19 centimetres of which fell today, nearly doubling our record from this time in 1971.

Winds between 70 and 90 km/h aren’t expected to die down until Thursday morning.

All schools and post-secondary institutions are closed and many businesses have decided to shut their doors as well. Most Victorians are spending the day building backyard snowmen or hunkering down with warm cups of cocoa.

But maybe, against all odds, there’s somewhere you absolutely need to be. If your trip is essential, make sure to stay safe and follow these tips before venturing out into the snow.

Drive with caution

This seems like common sense, but it never hurts to be reminded that we inexperienced Victorians need to practice a little extra caution when driving in the snow (even if you think you’re the exception!).

Do your best to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of extra time to travel to your destination. Clear all the snow off your car windows before you go—failing to do so could earn you a $109 fine!

Slow down a little more if visibility gets worse. Maintain plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. And make sure you give winter maintenance equipment and operators a wide berth!

Check your tires

While winter tires are not required within Greater Victoria, regulations are in effect for anyone planning to head over the Malahat.

Check for a “mountain/snowflake” or “M+S” (mud and snow) symbol on your tires.

If you don’t have all-weather tires (or if yours are a little worn out), you should refrain from driving at all. Check out designated routes here.

(M+S tires/GoodYear)

Public transit

BC Transit is posting frequent updates regarding route detours and cancellations on Facebook and Twitter.

If your route is still active, it’s best to expect that your bus will be late—check NextRide so that you don’t have to wait in the cold any longer than necessary, while still giving yourself some extra time to trudge to the bus stop.

Walking in the snow

You may opt to trek to your destination rather than risk driving on the roads this week. Above all, bundle up!

Wear a toque to protect your ears and trap heat. Choose shoes with solid traction to avoid slipping. And make sure to take proper precautions when spending longer periods outside.

It’s easy to underestimate the effects that prolonged exposure to low temperatures can have, especially on children and the elderly. Walking through or shovelling deep, wet snow can strain some people’s hearts. Know the signs of hypothermia and heart attacks.

The safest thing you can do today? Stay home! Have a snowball fight in the yard or curl up inside with a blanket and a book.

But if you have to travel through this winter wonderland, then remember: safety first.