Head start: Here are winter safety tips to get ahead of an expected snowier season

With a 70% to 80% chance of a La Niña winter in Spokane, this next season is expected to bring more snowy weather. That’s incentive in the next several weeks of fall to prepare with safety measures both for you and your home.

The long-range forecast for the remainder of the year predicts a strong chance for above-normal precipitation for much of Washington and Oregon. A La Niña occurs when winds are stronger than usual and push warm ocean water toward Asia, causing cold, nutrient-rich water to come to the surface along the West Coast of North America.

But you can get ready now for any blows of winter a few steps at a time. There are handy tip sheets offered by several insurance companies, health care centers and AARP for what to do ahead of frigid temperatures.

Here are some ideas:

Prevent pipe ruptures. PEMCO Insurance offers several steps to take now. Start by disconnecting your garden hoses and protecting the faucets with a foam cover. If it has an indoor valve, turn it off and open the faucet to drain any trapped water so it can’t freeze and potentially rupture the pipe. Wrap pipes in unheated spaces such as garages and workshops.

Clean gutters. Removing leaves and other debris will help prevent ice damming. During fast snowmelt, clogged gutters could cause water to seep back into the roof or overflow near the foundation, causing leaks and settling. If you’re unsure about safely using a ladder, consider hiring a pro to do the job and perhaps also look for loose gutters.

Check smoke detectors. AARP suggests when you change the clocks to “fall back” an hour Nov. 7, also change the batteries in your smoke detectors. However, any time your alarm chirps, it’s a sign the battery is low, and you should replace it no matter the time of year. Once you’ve replaced the batteries, test that the smoke detector works. It’s often just a push of a button to make sure the alarm goes off.

Do furnace maintenance. This can be another time to call in a pro to ensure that your furnace runs at peak efficiency. Without semiannual maintenance in the spring and fall, airborne allergens may get trapped in the filters and result in poor indoor air quality, AARP said. It’s likely a good time to change filters.

Prevent winter slips and falls. Check that your best winter shoes are in shape, or consider buying new ones. You should have flat footwear with slip-resistant soles or snow boots that provide traction, said a blog by MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care. Even a quick jaunt outside to grab a newspaper or mail can lead to a nasty fall if you wear floppy slippers.

Use a headlamp and reflective gear. Buy or check the status of a headlamp – does it still work – for short ventures outside, on dark winter afternoons or evenings, such as to take the dog on a quick walk. More clothing options these days come with reflective stripes so drivers can see you easier when you’re walking roadside.

Stock firewood, nonperishable food, prescriptions. These preparations will keep you home safely in case of a power outage or when a snowstorm hampers travel. Consider keeping your prescription medications refilled as soon as allowed so you have a few extra days of medication, suggests a PEMCO blog.

Car safety. Things to take care of ahead of winter include antifreeze, the car’s battery, winter-ready tires, washer fluid and wiper blades. PEMCO said now also is a good time to pack an emergency kit for the trunk with gloves, a water-resistant blanket, ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables, extra warm clothes, nonperishable food and water and sand or old-fashioned cat litter for traction if you get stuck.

Until spring, live by the “half tank” rule, which means never allowing your gas gauge to dip below that so you won’t have to worry about running out of gas if a weather-snarled commute leaves you stuck on the freeway for hours.

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Travel UK news live: Covid lateral flow tests go on sale ahead of PCR switch, with prices from £1

Lateral flow tests, also known as antigen tests, have become available to pre-order ahead of the switch from PCR tests for vaccinated travellers, permitted from Sunday.

The change was announced by the UK government on 14 October, and planned to happen in time for families returning from half-term holidays in the next two weeks.

The government website lists suppliers with prices starting as low as £1. But research by The Independent shows the cheapest tests are accompanied by onerous terms and conditions. In all cases when clicking through, travellers are presented initially with much more expensive options.

In other news, Australia has confirmed several steps towards its reopening to international travel – most significantly, the state of Victoria has announced that it will scrap quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November.

The country is planning to open only to Singapore in a “travel bubble” arrangement initially, then to further countries in Asia and Australasia before Christmas.

Follow the latest travel news below:


Simon Calder answers this week’s biggest travel questions

At this stage of October, the travel correspondent of The Independent is usually to be found in his private compartment travelling east over the central section of the Trans-Siberian railway in eastern Russia, en route to Ulan Bator ahead of the nationwide celebrations on 25 October of Mongolian Republic Day.

This year he has instead chosen to venture no further east than Ulan-Ude – where the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian lines diverge – and this afternoon found time to respond to readers’ urgent travel questions for an hour.

Whether you have concerns about proof of vaccination, the likelihood of more travel bans or individual destination rules, Simon Calder is likely to have the answers.

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 16:24


Australia announces steps towards reopening to international travel

Australia has announced further steps towards reopening to international travel.

The state of Victoria – home to the city of Melbourne and the Yarra Valley wine region – announced today that it will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals from 1 November.

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison also announced that the country is planning a “travel bubble” air corridor with vaccinated Singaporeans, with plans coming into effect as soon as next week.

Mr Morrison said that the Australian government was in the “final stages of concluding an arrangement with the Singapore government” ahead of the plans.

“We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so, as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore, we will see that occur,” he added.

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 15:00


It’s opening up – but is the world ready for us?

As some of the UK’s great travel firms have told me during the Covid crisis, it is tougher to take apart a holiday than to put one together. In particular, companies offering multinational itineraries face multiple problems.

“The world isn’t ready for us yet,” says Charlie Hopkinson of Dragoman – an overland adventure firm with an excellent reputation. Attempting to take a truckload of people from a dozen nations, each with a different vaccination status, across a series of international frontiers is fraught with hazard.

He has shrewdly decided to put the firm into temporary hibernation. In the coming months Charlie’s team will set about rescuing the overland trucks scattered far and wide across South America, Africa and Asia. As international barriers started to clatter shut, these specialist vehicles had to be abandoned while tour leaders hurried their passengers to the nearest airport.

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 14:18


Scotland’s bike-friendly trains are ripe for adventure

As UK travel remains admin-free and appealing, and many looker for greener modes of transport, Scotland’s new bike-friendly trains are inspiring adventurous travel closer to home, writes Robin McKelvie.

Mercifully, the nightmares of train travel with a bike are in the past on the Glasgow-Oban line, thanks to the green shoots of Britain’s first dedicated cycle carriages; a new sustainable artery into Argyll’s mountain and ocean-sparkled network of cycling trails.

Real thought – and design (the striking exterior is the work of Scottish artist Peter McDermott) – has gone into the ‘Highland Explorer’ carriages, with a wide passageway either side of racks holding up to 20 cycles. There are 24 seats too – for a small supplement you get a trail map table, snack box and hot drink, though you avoid the supplement sitting elsewhere.

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 13:40


How does the new lateral flow tests system work?

From Sunday, vaccinated travellers into the UK (and some unvaccinated under 18s) can book a cheaper lateral flow or antigen test around travel, rather than the more costly PCRs.

Privately manufactured lateral flow test kits are now available to book, with the UK government publishing an approved list on the UK.gov website.

In terms of travel out of the UK, several countries also allow an antigen test result as part of their entry requirements, so the newly-vetted private lateral flow tests could also be used for this function.

However, this varies from destination to destination, so please check individual travel advice for each trip to ensure an antigen test is appropriate.

But how does the new travel testing system work, and what does this mean for unvaccinated passengers?

Here’s everything we know:

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 12:45


Ask Simon Calder your travel questions before 1pm

Concerned about what Morocco’s ban on the UK means for other holiday destinations? Want a steer on what may chance in next week’s travel update?

The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder will be on hand to answer your travel questions at 1pm today.

Whether it’s advice on trips booked or in the works for this autumn and winter, long-range predictions for the travel industry or something entirely different, Simon will do his best to answer as many of you queries as he can between 1 and 2pm.

Submit your questions in the comments section of this article:

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 12:20


Antigen tests from as little as £1 – but what’s the catch?

Travellers returning to England from abroad are now able to book cheaper lateral flow tests rather than PCRs. For fully vaccinated international arrivals from Sunday 24 October, the cost of the so-called “day two” test for travellers is set to fall.

Announcing the change, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”

The government website lists suppliers with prices starting as low as £1. But research by The Independent shows the cheapest tests are accompanied by onerous terms and conditions. In all cases when clicking through, travellers are presented initially with much more expensive options.

Simon Calder22 October 2021 12:01


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

Lucy Thackray22 October 2021 11:58

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Martin’s car and home insurance warning ahead of groundreaking rule changes

7. More than one car in the home? Multicar policies could save or cost you £100s

Multicar insurance policies aren’tincluded on comparison sites, so to find out if you’ll save requires digital elbow grease.

My rule of thumb is first try the opposite to what you have, as insurance has always been about sucking in newbies with special deals. So if you’ve multicar, try standalone policies. Got standalone? Then try multicar.

The three pure multicar discount policies are from Admiral MultiCar*, Aviva* and LV*. All let you set up a policy at your 1st car’s renewal, leaving the other car(s) on its existing insurer until their renewal. See multicar split-year renewals.

There are also multi-policy discounts, reducing the cost if you’ve two cars, or get car and home insurance together. These include More Than (15% off), Axa* (up to 15%), Esure* (10%), Privilege (varies) and Sheilas’ Wheels* (10%). Plus, Direct Line* and Churchill also offer discounts for multiple cars.

Multicar worked for Kam, who told us on Facebook: “I saved £500 by sticking both my and my wife’s car on a multicar policy.”

But Nigel tweeted that splitting was better: “@MartinSLewis I was with multicar until at renewal they wanted over £1,300 for 3 cars. Got 3 individual policies for under £600.”

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Salads, travel tips ahead on show

Information on preparing salads, travel tips and an online resource for living gluten-free will be the featured topics on “Creative Living” 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and noon Thursday (all times Mountain).

Connie Moyers represents Mrs. Cubbison’s Kitchens, and she’s going to talk about the abundant selection of pre-packaged salads available in most supermarkets, as well as all the add-ons that can be used, including croutons, tortilla strips and wonton strips. Moyers lives in Clovis.

Adventure writer and photographer, Yvonne Lanelli will share some super tips for savvy travelers. She recommends doing a lot of research before undertaking a trip. She has lots of good suggestions from avoiding scams, to packing tips, and even information for international travel. Lanelli is from Alto.

K. C. Pomering is the founder of G-Free Foodie, and she’s going to tell about this online resource for living deliciously gluten free. She’ll talk about all the options that are available in her Box Club as well as why anyone would need to be gluten free. She’s from Madera, California.

Information on showcasing a collection and making chenille fabric will be the featured topics on “Creative Living” noon Tuesday and 2 p.m. Saturday.

Latriece Brooks is an interior decorator from Clovis. Brooks will share tips and samples to show how to feature various collections in the home. Her company is Brooks’ Interior Re-Decorating.

Diane Lieb will show how to make faux chenille and then use it to add embellishments to pillows, vests, sweatshirts and much more. She’s from Portales.

Salads and toppers

Most people love to have a salad as the first course of their meal. In supermarkets today, there is a tremendous refrigerated section that gives you a choice of pre-packaged salads of all types. You can also pick out your favorite greens and make your own mixture.

After you’ve chosen your salad mix, you can then vary your “add-ons” from a complete variety of fresh, dried or canned items. There is also a large variety of salad dressings. Here too, the consumer may choose to make her own, usually using such items as mustard, wine, vinegar and spices.

Or, you can take advantage of the new toppers that are available. There are traditional croutons, which now come in a larger variety of flavors. Or, use tortilla or wonton strips to add a little punch to your salad.

“Creative Living” is produced and hosted by Sheryl Borden. The show is carried by more than 118 PBS stations. Contact her at:

[email protected]

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Vaccination remains CDC’s top COVID-19 safety recommendation ahead of holiday travel

In 2020, COVID-19 threw a wrench in holiday traditions. Some families ditched in-person gatherings, connecting with loved ones through a screen.

“That was weird. I don’t think anyone really wants to do that again,” Stone said. “I’m excited to see people in person”

This year, the CDC is no longer recommending virtual gatherings for the holidays. 

Some said they’re moving forward with baby steps. 

“I’m not wanting to rush things. I’m just taking it a day at a time,” Minnesota resident Sam Johnson said. 

The CDC now says the key to gathering safely is getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Since children under 12 are not eligible for the shot yet, health officials said it’s important adults do their part and get vaccinated.

“Kids can get COVID, and they’re getting COVID at higher rates this year because of the change in the strains that we’re seeing,” said Dr. Amy Elliot, District One Hospital medical director. “Some kids are also getting hospitalized with it again, particularly kids who have other medical illnesses, but healthy children can as well.”

The CDC said regardless of vaccination status, people in areas with substantial to high COVID-19 spread should wear a mask indoors. 

According to CDC data, all counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin have high rates of COVID-19 transmission right now. 

The guidance said being outdoors is safer. 

“I think we’re all tired. We want it to be done, and the way we get over COVID is by working as a community to keep one another safe,” Elliot said. “I am sincerely hopeful that 2022 is going to be a year to say we’ve got this under control.”

Kids ages 5 to 11 could be vaccinated by the holidays. Pfizer submitted data to get its vaccine approved for that age group

Earlier this week the White House said children could start getting vaccinated next month.

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United adding European destinations ahead of summer travel rebound


Chicago-based United Airlines is adding five new transatlantic destinations in Spring 2022 as it prepares for a potential bounce back in summer travel between the United States and Europe next year.

The expansion would be the largest transatlantic expansion in the company’s history and includes destinations in Spain, Portugal, Norway, the Spanish Canary Islands and Jordan.

“Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United, said in a Thursday news release. 

United will be the first North American carrier to fly to the five new destinations.  

  • Bergen, Norway: Starting May 20, United will offer flights three times a week between New York/Newark and Bergen on a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Azores, Portugal: Flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores begin May 13 with a new Boeing 737 MAX 8. This will be United’s third Portuguese destination, along with flights to Porto (which return in March) and Lisbon (which are being operated from New York and are set to resume from Washington, D.C. next summer).
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Travelers can fly from New York/Newark to the beach destination in the Balearic Islands in a Boeing 767-300ER starting June 2. United will offer flights three times a week. 
  • Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands: United is set to launch a new flight from New York/Newark to the Tenerife on June 9, offering service three times a week via a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Amman, Jordan: Flights from Washington, D.C. to Amman begin May 5 with service three-times-weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. 

Tickets for Bergen, Azores, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife go on sale Thursday, and Amman tickets should follow soon after. 

The airline is also adding new flights to five European destinations (Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome) “in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors” and relaunching seven routes that had been paused during the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich, all of which are subject to government approval. 

► US travel ban: US to drop travel ban for vaccinated international travelers starting in early November

► ‘You matter to us’: Southwest quietly issuing goodwill travel vouchers

The expansion would follow the launch of a new air travel system in the U.S. in early November that will ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nations.

While international flight capacity saw gains this year, it has a ways to go before catching up to pre-pandemic levels. International passenger demand dropped 76% between 2019 and 2020, the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history according to the International Air Transport Association.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz

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Latest news updates: Thailand relaxes travel rules for tourists ahead of year-end holiday season – Financial Times

Latest news updates: Thailand relaxes travel rules for tourists ahead of year-end holiday season  Financial Times

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Don’t travel unless ‘absolutely necessary,’ Hajdu reminds Canada ahead of holiday season – National

As the weather starts to get colder and Canadians start eyeing sunny destinations to the south, Health Minister Patty Hajdu has a reminder: non-essential travel is still not advised.

Hajdu said prospective travellers should keep that in mind as they consider going to visit relatives or think about taking a beach vacation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ll remind Canadians that, as annoying as it is…we still have travel advisories in place recommending that people don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Hajdu said, speaking during an interview with The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson.

Read more:
4th wave of COVID-19 no longer growing, cases could decline in coming weeks: PHAC

There are “a couple of reasons” why the travel advisory is still in place, Hajdu added, including the fact that there are “a number of places in the world” where “COVID is still very, very out of control” — including some American states.

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Hajdu also pointed out that travel rules can change in different jurisdictions “very quickly.”

“We’ve seen a number of stories over the last 18 months or so of Canadians finding out, when they’ve arrived in another country, that the rules have changed and that they now have hurdles to get back to Canada or challenges to get into the country in which they’ve just arrived,” she said.

Click to play video: 'The cost of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic'

The cost of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic

The cost of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic

Her comments come on the heels of news that the fourth wave in Canada is starting to show signs of slowing, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

While progress has been uneven across the country, new modelling presented by PHAC on Friday suggests that if current transmission levels are maintained, the number of new daily cases could decline in the coming weeks.

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Overall, the numbers give “reason for optimism” said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada.

“With the level of vaccine coverage that we have achieved in Canada to date, we are much better protected going into the respiratory infection season,” Tam said.

“By maintaining basic and less restrictive measures such as masking and limiting close contact, we could reduce the impact of COVID-19 this winter.”

Read more:
Federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate: Here’s what we know, what we don’t

Meanwhile, the government has been preparing for a time when COVID-19’s spread slows sufficiently to allow Canadians to travel recreationally once again.

Hajdu said the government is working with other countries to try to ensure that when Canadians do travel, their vaccines are accepted — even in cases when an individual received two different kinds of COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is something that I think all countries are working through — which vaccines will they accept as proof of vaccination for entry into the country — and we’re going to continue to work with our American counterparts to share all the data they need to to move on this issue,” she said.

The Americans have yet to make a decision as to whether they’ll consider Canadians who received two different COVID-19 vaccine doses as being fully vaccinated.

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Click to play video: 'Current COVID-19 vaccine coverage leaves Canadians ‘better protected’ heading into winter, Tam says'

Current COVID-19 vaccine coverage leaves Canadians ‘better protected’ heading into winter, Tam says

Current COVID-19 vaccine coverage leaves Canadians ‘better protected’ heading into winter, Tam says

Hajdu would not reveal whether the U.S. administration appears open to recognizing COVID-19 vaccine dose mixing, but said Canadian officials will “continue to, obviously, press the Americans to recognize” it.

“I suspect that this will continue to be a work in progress for countries, including the United States, including Canada, about how we ensure that we have the confidence in vaccines that we haven’t had the ability to fully review from a scientific data base,” she said.

“That’s the work that we’ll continue to do here in Canada, and I’m confident our international partners will do so as well.”

— with files from Global News’ Leslie Young

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Mexico increasing capacity ahead of spring break — here’s everything you need to know before visiting – The Points Guy

Mexico increasing capacity ahead of spring break — here’s everything you need to know before visiting – The Points Guy

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Expo 2020 unveils official song ahead of opening | News

With less than a week to go until it opens its doors to the world, Expo 2020 Dubai has launched its official song.

Titled This Is Our Time, the piece highlights pride in the United Arab Emirates’ culture, celebrates the future and brings together nations from around the world.

The song, available to listen here, features Hussain Al Jassmi, one of the biggest artists in the country and an Expo 2020 ambassador, accompanied by Lebanese-American Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Mayssa Karaa.

The latter who is also artistic director of Expo’s all-female Firdaus Orchestra.

Also involved is 21-year-old Emirati singer-songwriter, Almas.

Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “World Expos bring people together, and we are pleased to welcome a collection of incredible talents to lend their voices to the official Expo 2020 Dubai song – combining the past, present and future, and providing an inspiration to all.

“In less than ten days, we look forward to welcoming the world and creating once-in-a-lifetime memories for millions of visitors.”

One of the first global mega-events to take place since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Expo 2020 will run from October 1st until March next year.

It invites millions of visitors to join the making of a new world in a six-month celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture, with music providing a unifying, uplifting force.

Al Jassmi said: “This Is Our Time is a tribute to the UAE for all it has been, is today and will achieve in the years to come.

“It’s a song about pride, faith and unity, and I hope that it brings a smile to the faces of everyone who hears it, wherever they may be in the world.

“Being a part of such an iconic event in the UAE’s history is extremely exciting and rewarding.”

Give the song a listen below:

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