Safety tips for fun winter activities

A little cold and snow won’t keep many northerners inside. From hiking to snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling, there are plenty of outdoor attractions to lure folks into the crisp, winter air. Keep yourself injury-free this season with these quick safety reminders for cold weather activities:

Sledding
Reduce the risk of head injury by teaching kids to ride feet first when sledding. Supervise their sledding spots and look for areas with a clear, slow slope at the end. Designated community sledding hills are best. Sled on fresh or packed snow, but skip it if the snow pack is icy — you can lose control too easily on ice-covered hills.


Ice skating
Use caution when skating on ponds or lakes, and wait until areas have been approved and posted for ice skating. Dull skates will increase falls, so get them sharpened at a local rink or sporting goods store.

Skiing and snowboarding
New skiers should take a professional lesson before hitting the slopes. After that, coach kids (especially teens skiing with friends) to stay on hills appropriate for their skill level and ability. Helmets are a must, and snowboarders should use wrist guards, at least while learning. Goggles are a safer choice than sunglasses in terms of overall protection from UV rays, ice crystals, and branches. And be sure to check snow conditions before heading out.

Ice fishing
Beware of frostbite. Kids lose heat more quickly than adults, so don’t assume your children are okay just because you are. Again, stick to approved areas or check with your local bait shops and fishing clubs for up-to-date information on ice thickness and dangerous areas.

Snowmobiling
Wear a helmet with goggles or a face shield, and slow down. Speed is a factor in nearly all fatal snowmobile accidents. Avoid alcohol consumption, which increases the risks. Stay on designated trails and never travel alone. Check with local snowmobile clubs for conditions and safe rider programs.

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