outdoors for recreation during winter months can be an
exhilarating (if a little chilly) experience.
are many ways to get outdoors during the winter months,
including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,
ice fishing and, a more recent addition, fat biking. The
nature of the outdoor environment in winter adds extra
challenge and some extra danger.
temperatures pose an obvious threat, and wind plays an even
bigger role in causing convective heat loss," says Doug
Larsen, a Mayo Clinic Health System emergency medicine
physician assistant. "The ice and snow make travel to and
from recreation spots more dangerous, and orthopedic injuries
are more likely during recreational activities."
recommends carrying these essentials when out on the trail or
Signaling device, such as flares or a whistle
Knife or multi-tool
protection, including sunscreen and sunglasses
Insulation (extra gloves or layers)
Adequate water and water purification
Emergency shelter (bivy sack or jumbo trash bag)
people don’t realize that the sun in winter is dangerous in
different ways than in the summer," says Larsen.
"You can still get a sunburn in winter. Additionally,
ultraviolet keratitis from the reflection off the snow —
also called snow blindness — can be an issue."
addition to carrying the 10 essentials, Larsen advises these
Study the map and familiarize yourself with the area you’re
exploring. Don’t rely on GPS.
someone where you’re going and when you plan to return.
Also, tell them if your plans change.
Check the weather forecast, and dress accordingly.
Bring a small first-aid kit. A first-aid kit is loaded with
supplies that can help protect an open wound and mitigate the
risk of infection.
general, these rules apply through all seasons but are perhaps
even more important during the winter," adds Larsen.
"The farther from civilization you plan to go and the
colder it is, the more prepared you need to be. But don’t be
too complacent. Getting stuck just outside town can be just as
cold and difficult as getting stuck in remote Alaska if you
aren’t prepared. With a little preparation, you can safely
enjoy the outdoors in the winter — or really any time of