How do you survive the Russian winter? 5 ways to prepare for the white apocalypse

Denis Kozhevnikov/TASS
Before the first snow falls, Russians must deal with this checklist… every autumn.

1. Change the car tires

Most Russians begin preparing for the winter season starting with their cars. Although there are many things to do, most crucial is to put on winter tires.

There is no set date by which you should change the tires, but it takes a keen sense of the weather to do so at the right time. Do it too early and you’ll be frowned upon; wait too long and the snow will catch you unprepared, and you’ll be faced with slippery road conditions.

The best indication about the best time to change tires is when the average temperature falls below +5 Celsius and stays under this threshold for five days. That’s when you know it’s time to rush to the nearest station.

Other essential pre-winter maintenance includes draining the washer tank of water and filling it with anti-freeze liquid, swapping the floor mats for rubber, charging the battery, and putting a shovel inside the car for snowfalls like this one.

2. Secure the dacha

Along with their cars, most Russians also prepare their dachas for winter. This is a complex process that can keep the whole family busy for days. It usually begins with a thorough cleaning of the house interior: floors and shelves; as well as washing clothes, towels, bed linen, tablecloths and curtains; and then store these in a closet or wardrobe. Finally, cover all furniture with fabric.

The house’s exterior has to be taken care of as well. Make sure the roof has no holes, which can lead to major problems when the snow begins melting in spring. Close the windows with shutters to better protect the house’s interior from the elements. Drain water from tanks inside and outside the house, including the toilet because it can burst if any water left inside freezes.

Turning off the electricity and gas is also a must. Anyone who fails to complete the tasks on this checklist risks finding his house unfit for the next summer season.

3. Insulate windows

Many Russian families do not limit winter preparations to the dacha; they also work on keeping their city apartments warm in temperatures that can easily fall below -30C. Since most warmth escapes apartments via windows, many Russians take care of their frames before winter strikes, especially if they still have frames made of wood instead of modern plastic windows.

The first step on the way of insulating your apartments from the cold is washing your windows and frames: clean windows let more sunlight in on sunny days. Then, many Russians use foam rubber, cotton, or old rags to insulate window frames from the cold by placing the material all through the frames, plugging even the smallest openings.

This method’s main disadvantage is that you’ll have to keep the windows closed the entire winter season, unable to let fresh air in. Luckily, most Russian apartments are now equipped with modern plastic frames that don’t need additional insulation.

4. Make your pets comfy

Pets are especially prone to the cold during the Russian winter. Unlike humans, they can’t cuddle in bed or warm up with a hot bath. Many pet owners make an effort to prepare their pets for the cold. Buy a small heat-insulated rug or bed specially designed for dogs and cats. Placing it right next to a new electric heater will be a nice bonus to heat-loving pets.

Most dogs will need their paws protected from the chemical agents that city services pour on the streets to prevent ice formation.

5. Prepare your home for guests

In most Russian cities (exceptions exist) it gets really cold in winter. Most social activities migrate from the streets to apartments, and yours must be ready to welcome unexpected guests at any time of the day. Clean it thoroughly before winter strikes, because it will be more difficult to wash and ventilate in low temperatures. Prepare extra mugs to treat guests to hot tea, coffee or these Russian drinks designed to keep you warm. Move your favorite chair closer to the heater and enjoy a cozy Russian winter.

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