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There are so many fun activities to do outside in the winter.

Many people in other parts of the world have never built a snowman or even seen snow!

Skating on an outdoor rink, skiing, tobogganing or just walking through a park trying to identify animal prints in the snow are all winter wonders.

Don’t hide from the winter weather — embrace it! You just need a few extra steps to keep yourself safe and warm during winter activities.

Just as it’s important to be safe during the summer, such as wearing sunscreen and a hat and drinking plenty of water, there are things to think about in the winter.

The hazards in your environment, like  slippery sidewalks or thin ice, and the activity you’re doing mean taking steps to get home safely ready to enjoy a steaming cup of hot cocoa!

This article gives you information about:
  • Being out and about all year round.
  • Protecting yourself when doing specific sports.
  • Being smart about winter.

Being Out and About All Year Round
We’ve all seen those “hard-core” people biking at minus 30. These people know the importance of dressing for the weather and staying mobile while being active  outside in winter.

So, whether you’re biking to work, out for a jog, or out for a walk around the block, remember these few tips for a safe workout:

  • Buy slip-on grips for your shoes.
  • Attach picks to the end of your walking poles if you’re using them.
  • Choose plowed and sanded trails.

SmartRisk suggests that you remember C-O-L-D (see the “Be Cold-Smart” link below for full details):

  • Cover your head, neck and face.
  • Overexertion leads to sweating, which causes damp or wet clothing.
  • Layer clothing to protect against wind and cold.
  • Dry. Wear waterproof clothing and insulated, waterproof boots and gloves.

It definitely takes a bit longer to get dressed to go outside in the winter, but it’s worth it. An outing in the winter can energize you.

Accepting our Canadian climate and focusing on the beautiful things of the season will help get you through the long winter.

Protection for Specific Sports
If you’re into winter sports with an element of speed and thrill, such as skiing or snowboarding, it’s especially important to wear a helmet and maintain your equipment.

Before your next outing, look closely at your equipment. Are your bindings in good working order? Are all the clasps and straps in good condition? Do you have the right wax for the conditions?

You may not think going for a family skate or game of shinny has any hazards, but remember you’re wearing sharp blades on your feet while moving around on a sheet of ice.

Children should have knee and elbow pads as well as hockey helmets. Bicycle helmets are not acceptable because they’re designed for a different purpose, type of impact and head coverage.

Being Smart About Winter

  • Survey the area.
    Going tobogganing? Check the hill to make sure it’s clear of trees or other obstacles. Avoid hills that end in a road at the bottom. Always walk up the sides of the hill and be aware of other tobogganers.
  • Check the reports on ice thickness.
    Before you go out for a skate on a pond or lake, check the local ice reports to make sure the ice is safe for skating. Be sure to obey any posted warning signs.
  • Check the weather before you head out.
    Winter weather can change very quickly, especially in mountain areas. Check the local forecast and be prepared. Remember that you will have to come back the same distance you go out. Consider this when thinking about how long you want to be outside.
  • Be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
    Look for white or grey skin as the beginning signs of frostbite. Some signs of hypothermia include cold or pale skin, uncontrollable shivering and stumbling.
  • Be aware of avalanche risk.
    This is especially important if you’re skiing in the backcountry or snowshoeing. Check the snow reports for the area, obey any warning signs and make sure you have the right equipment.
  • Tell someone where you are going.
    In the winter, whether you’re going for a stroll around the neighbourhood or a hike in the mountains, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If you have a cell phone, take it with you.

Winter offers a unique chance to be active. Don’t let sub-zero temperatures and snow drifts be a barrier to getting out there.

Taking simple safety precautions will help to keep activities fun and help you get through the long winter.

Learn More
Hockey Helmet vs. Bicycle Helmet
The Sports Medicine Council of Alberta gives you the “low-down” on the important differences between different types of helmets.

Snowboarding Safely!
Preparation and safety tips for snowboarding.

Winter Sports and Cold Related Injuries
The Better Health Channel offers tips on avoiding cold-related injuries.

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