Stay Safe When Playing Outside ths Winter

It may be cold outside, but thankfully that doesn’t keep people inside. We’re fortunate to have so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the world around us.

Whatever activity you head outside for, it’s essential to dress for the weather. Wear a warm hat since most of your body’s heat leaves through your head and wear warm socks and gloves since protecting your extremities is important. Layers are also essential since you can adjust your clothing if you get too warm.

Here’s a look at some safety advice for the various winter activities:

  • Ice fishing: For many people, February means sturgeon season, which is not just a fun activity, but also one the whole family can enjoy. It’s exciting to gather around that hole in the ice and try your luck on catching one of these prehistoric fish. When heading out on the ice, it’s essential to make sure it’s thick enough to bear the weight of everything you’re bringing out on the ice, including your shanty and any vehicles. Pay attention to any warnings issued by the DNR or law enforcement officials regarding ice conditions.
    • Carbon monoxide poisoning is another danger when fishing if you’re using a heater. Make sure you read through all of the safety directions that come with your heater and be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as headaches and nausea. If you’re experiencing those, get outside and breathe in fresh air.
  • Cross-country skiing: This is a great outdoor exercise for people of all ages and abilities. Cross-country skiing works your arms and legs and provides a real workout for your heart and lungs. Do some gentle stretching activities before heading out to warm up your muscles. It’s also a good idea to check out the terrain so you know what to expect.
  • Snowshoeing: If you can walk, you can snowshoe. If you don’t have any of your own, you can rent them at area nature centers. Just like with cross-country skiing, it’s important to stretch out your legs a bit before hitting the snow.
  • Snowmobiling: You’re not going to burn many calories sitting on your snowmobile, but it’s still a great outdoor winter activity. It’s also one of the most dangerous. To stay safe, always wear a helmet, follow posted speed limits, and don’t drink and drive.
  • Ice-skating is another fun outside activity and burns a lot of calories. Just be sure to dress warmly and check that the ice is safe.
  • Sledding and tubing: These activities aren’t just for kids. Head over to Calumet County Park on any weekend and you’ll see plenty of adults tubing. When sledding or tubing, always pay attention to your surroundings and watch for tubers coming down the hill to avoid any collisions. When on the sled, stay away from trees and other barriers.

Staying active outside will not only help you warm up, it will also help you stay healthier.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.