I love winter. I love the cold, the snow, the crispness in the air. But winter can be cruel and the weather can turn on you in an instant. If you will be RVing to any winter wonderlands and enjoying some outdoor activities, make sure you make safety a priority. Here are some of my best tips for staying safe during winter outdoor activities.
Dress in Layers
Dressing in layers will help you avoid getting too chilled – or overheated. Yes, you can dress too warmly in cold weather and that’s not good. When you get too warm, you start to sweat. As the sweat evaporates it pulls the hear from your body causing you to feel chilled. When exercising, cycling, hiking, or doing anything that requires physical exertion, the first layer you put on should be something that wicks sweat from your skin. Polypropylene is a great choice. Natural fibers like cotton will chill you as the web fabric clings to your skin.
Wool or fleece for the second layer will add insulation to keep you warm. Slip on something breathable and waterproof as your outer layer to complete your ensemble. Waterproof boots are also recommended. You don’t want your feet to get wet and cold. If you cycle, consider shoe covers. Gloves are also important as is something on your head.
Related Read: Top 5 Winter Weather Gear for Outdoor Activities
Don’t go out Alone
It isn’t a good idea to hike by yourself anyway, but it is a terrible idea to do it in winter weather. If something should happen to you or if you get disoriented, you could very easily die before anyone found you. When I first moved to Montana a friend and I got this bright idea to hike up this mountain – in November. The snow was to our knees and I was a low lander so I was not used to the thinner air up there. Looking back, it wasn’t the best decision I ever made. We got back alright, but it was dangerous. You could not see the trail for the snow. We could have easily stepped right off the side of the mountain.
Related Read: Epic Glacier Hike
Fortunately, one of the rangers had a dog, a pretty Rottweiler. We passed the ranger cabins at the trailhead and she latched on to us. We went up that mountain and stayed with us every step of the way. Several times she guided us away from the side and back on the trail. She likely saved us. She took us up to the summit and back down – by that time we were in the dark. She was like our guardian angel, protecting us from ourselves, our own foolishness as we pursued an already tough mountain is terrible conditions.
Know the Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite
Hypothermia is nothing to play around with; it can be serious. If you or someone you are with exhibits these symptoms seek medical help immediately:
Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed to extreme cold damages the skin and the tissue underneath. Most common areas for frostbite are fingers, nose, toes, ears, and cheeks. Symptoms of frostbite include:
In more severe cases there could also be swelling and yellowed, gray, or white, waxy skin with blood filled blisters.
Related Read: Camping During the Winter Months
Check the Forecast before you Head Out
In the winter, the weather can deteriorate rapidly. Before you head outside, check the temperature and the wind chill as well as the forecast for precipitation and dropping temps. Wind can whip right through your clothing and chill you as it removes the layer of warm air that in insulating your body. Also, exposed skin can get frostbite in less than 30 minutes when the wind chill dips to minus 180 F.
Let Someone Know Where you will Be
Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Give them as many details as possible so if you are late returning they can send someone to look for you. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Next, I’ll talk about winter weather gear for outdoor activities, you know, the stuff you should be carrying in your backpack.
What’s your best winter outdoor activity safety tip?
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