Stay safe during winter outdoor activities

Stay safe during winter outdoor activities
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By Mayo Clinic News Network

Winter can be a great time to enjoy outdoor activities — as long as you take precautions against the weather and cold temperatures. Follow these tips to ensure you are staying safe.

Cold weather preparedness

Arctic-like temperatures can be dangerous to many, especially the very young and elderly. Take these precautions to ensure you and your family is safe:

Avoid long exposure to cold weather

Dress in several layers of clothing

Pay special attention to protecting the feet, hands, head, ears and nose from extreme low temperatures

Stay well hydrated if you are going to be spending any length of time in the cold outdoors

Skip super-tight clothing

General health best practices

Regardless of the time of year, there are certain steps you should take to be the healthiest you can be. But extreme cold can exacerbate the effects of some unhealthy choices. So, take these steps to improve your well-being, especially when you’re chilled to the bone:

Avoid smoking

Limit alcohol and caffeine intake

Sit and stand in positions that allow for proper circulation

Watch out for signs of frostbite

Frostbite is a very serious condition. The first step to preventing frostbite is to know when you’re most at risk. Your risk is higher if you smoke, have a blood vessel disease like diabetes, aren’t wearing proper clothing, are dehydrated or fatigued, and if you’re at a higher altitude.

Take these measures to prevent frostbite once you understand your risk:

Cover your ears, face, head and nose

Wear proper boots or shoes — no sandals or open-toed shoes

Wear mittens or gloves — mittens provide better protection

Put on two pairs of socks on extremely cold days

Go with another person whenever possible

Slips and falls

According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls account for almost 9 million unintentional injuries in the United States each year.

Tips for preventing slips and falls:

Wear the right shoes. Properly fitted shoes increase comfort, reduce fatigue and improve safety.

Take your time. If you notice that the floor or ground doesn’t have much traction, walk slow and be careful with each step.

Walk safely. Walk with your feet slightly pointed forward and try the “shuffle step” to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Stay aware. Watch out for uneven ground, protruding structures, holes, and debris that can cause slips, trips and falls. Also, be aware of ice- and snow-packed surfaces — they increase the risk of falling.