Welcome Winter! 8 Tips for Staying Safe Outside

Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to stay inside—on the contrary! Getting out to enjoy the snow and crisp air is one of the perks of the winter season. Many winter activities, like sledding and ice skating, are perfect for the whole family and make for a great weekend adventure. Although fun is the name of the game, it’s vital to remember that the cold weather requires different planning than the summer heat. 

Follow these tips to have a safe and exciting winter weather experience.

Check Weather Conditions

Before you head out for a day of winter fun, check the weather conditions for the whole day. Even if you’re planning to return after a couple of hours, the situation may change and require you to stay out longer. It’s best to be prepared. Pack gear that’s appropriate for all expected conditions. Looking at the forecast will also help you plan your driving route and make sure the car is ready for a winter excursion. Signing up for weather alerts on your phone is an excellent way to stay informed if conditions change while you’re out.

Dress Appropriately

It may seem obvious, but one of the most critical parts of safely playing outside in the winter is dressing appropriately. Remember that even in fairly moderate temperatures, playing outside for several hours can quickly become dangerous if you’re not dressed for the occasion. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Layers are key. You can easily adjust what you’re wearing as temperatures change, and kids can take off wet outer layers before they get too cold. Waterproof outer layers make a big difference!
  • Babies and young children generally need one more layer of clothing than adults for any given conditions.
  • Try to avoid cotton fabrics and opt instead for wool.
  • Hats, gloves, boots, and face coverings are essential for outdoor play, but be mindful of choking hazards from strings for younger kids.

Eat a Snack (and Take Some Along)

Gearing up for outdoor play should include a filling snack. The extra calories will help keep you warm outside. Plan to take a few snacks along for the adventure, even if you’re not going for more than a couple of hours. Fat- and protein-packed options are best for a quick refuel between rounds of sledding.

Pack Extra Gear

Even the shortest outdoor adventures require some extra gear. Make sure to have spare gloves, socks, and hats in case the ones you’re wearing get wet. Extra dry shoes for the car ride home are also a good idea. Pack more food and water than you think you’ll need. The dry winter air dehydrates your body faster, so you’ll need to drink plenty of fluids when you’re out.

Use Safety Equipment

Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen! Even though a burn in January seems strange, snow reflects much of the sun’s UV rays, so it’s essential to use sunscreen if you’ll have exposed skin outside. Sunglasses and goggles are also necessary. If you’re skiing, snowboarding, or playing hockey, it’s best to wear a helmet to avoid head injuries from any falls. Check any sports equipment at the beginning of the season and replace anything with signs of wear.

Choose Your Location Wisely

Winter sports are full of adventure and fun, but choosing your location for activities is important. Sledding, snowboarding, and skiing should take place on official runs when possible. If you’re looking for an unofficial sledding spot, ensure you’re far from the road and away from hazards like rocks or ditches. Other games, like snowball fights or even making snow angels, can become dangerous if you’re playing on a hidden layer of ice under the snow. 

Choose a grassy field for these activities so that you won’t run into any icy surprises.

Have Regular Check-Ins

Kids aren’t the best at noticing when they’re too cold, so it’s up to the adults to have regular check-ins during outdoor play. Check to ensure gloves and socks are dry and change for a new pair if necessary. If kids are exerting a lot of energy, have them shed an inner layer to avoid sweating. 

Look for any early signs of frostnip/frostbite on exposed skin, especially ears, nose, and fingers. Red skin that’s numb or tingling indicates that it’s time for a break to warm up.

Plan a Spot for Warming Up

If your outdoor fun involves more than an hour or so of playtime, it’s a good idea to have a spot ready to warm up during breaks. If you’re away from buildings, your car is an excellent choice. Have blankets, snacks, and warm drinks available.

With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your day outside in the snow with family and friends!

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This content is brought to you by Metroparks. One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The Metroparks are open 365 days a year and encompass 25,000 acres of nature and recreational facilities. Each year more than 1.5 million people engage with the Metroparks to enjoy amenities such as picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, disc golf, cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and a diversity of outdoor programs and special events. The Metroparks also provide educational resources on science, nature, history, and the environment. Learn more at Metroparks.com.

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