Snowshoe White MountainsAh, winter in New Hampshire...a picturesque time of snow-covered villages, frozen streams and ponds, and carolers with hot cocoa. New England winters are lovely, with much to see and do...but the weather can feel brutal, especially if you are new to the area. Be ready for the challenge and stay safe with these tips:

1. During and after the first good storm, people will drive recklessly, so be sure to give yourself extra distance. Defensive driving is key. Slow down.

2. While not necessary if you live in the city, a set of winter tires or studded snow tires can make driving during a storm safer.

3. If you live outside of the city (or on the outskirts) you will lose power at some point. Electricity is usually restored within 12 hours, but we've seen several days of prolonged outages. Alternate heat sources (like wood stoves) are especially useful during an outage. Many people find they need a supply of bottled water for drinking and flushing toilets. A generator is good to have on-hand for times like these, but you'll need a transfer switch installed at the electrical panel to use a generator.

4. If you own a house, you'll want to invest in a snow blower. It's also a good idea to mark your driveway with snow poles. Since you can't tell where your driveway ends when there's a lot of snow on it, the poles will help guide you when you shovel or use the snow blower. If you pay somebody to plow the snow, the poles help avoid damage to your landscaping.

5. Another essential if you own a house is a roof rake. Yes, people in New Hampshire rake their roofs. While it may sound funny, raking your roof will help to alleviate the snow load on your roof and reduce the incidence of ice dams.

6. Make sure you have warm gloves and good comfortable boots. Consider wearing base layers of fleece or silk - and lined jeans are great! You can even purchase hand and toe warmers to stuff inside boots and gloves before spending time outdoors.

7. Buy a windshield scraper and car snow brush now while the stores still have them in stock.

8. A nice luxury is the remote car starter. You will appreciate the convenience of climbing into a warm car when bracing single-digit exterior temperatures.

9. Practice driving in the snow. If you can find a vacant parking lot, practicing how to get out of skids is a great idea. And be sure to train the younger drivers in your household on these skills.

10. Load your car with a winter safety kit. You never know if you'll be stranded because of weather or road closures, so it's smart to have blankets, water, emergency food and anything else to keep you warm and safe should you get stranded. If you live in a rural area or travel a lot by car, it's a good idea to not let your gas tank get below 1/4 full.

While staying safe and warm during the winter months is important, don't forget to go out and ENJOY the winter. Go skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing. Winter in New Hampshire is a beautiful time!