With fresh snow this winter there’s no better time to be hitting the slopes. It’s a great opportunity to spend some time with your family, get out in nature, and get some exercise as well. It’s also important to be safe about it and take the necessary precautions to make sure the fun isn’t spoiled by unexpected weather. Here we’ll look at some simple ways to stay safe and combat the cold when you’re out enjoying all that nature has to offer.
One of the easiest and most important ways to combat the cold is to dress appropriately. The best way to do so is to make sure that you wear layers. Get some long underwear and an additional sweater to wear beneath a waterproof shell. Additionally, you should cover your ears with either muffs or a hat. Do your research before you leave and be prepared for temperatures below what you expect. Additionally, one neat concept that is becoming more popular are jackets with built in distress beacons for the event of an avalanche or getting lost. This might not be pertinent if you’re sticking the the bunny slopes but if you crave the fresh powder and untouched trails it might not be such a bad idea.
One of the biggest risks of winter sporting is the cold. Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and know how to react if you recognize any in yourself or your sporting partners. The basic symptoms include: uncontrolled shivering, mental sluggishness, and uncoordinated and stiff body movements. As the symptoms progress you will notice muscle rigidity, a drop in your pulse and rate of breathing, and ultimately a near comatose state. The best protection is to stay warm. Hypothermia is especially dangerous if you are wet. If this happens, find a place sheltered from the wind and replace wet clothes with dry or use a dry blanket.
Another common concern during the winter months is frostbite. Frostbite is a condition in which there is localized damage to your skin and tissue due to freezing. The best way to combat frostbite is to stay covered up. This is especially important for your extremities which are more prone to lose heat than your core. Additionally, frostbite is especially dangerous during high winds due to the added chill. The first stage of frostbite is often called ‘frostnip.’ The symptoms include: itching, pain, and red, white, or yellow discoloration. The next stage’s symptoms cause your skin freeze and harden. If you notice any of these symptoms be sure to warm up and cover the affected area from the wind immediately.
Lastly, be cautious and don’t push yourself to do things you don’t feel comfortable doing. The much more common malady for winter sports is broken bones and bruises so be safe and stay within your limits.