Basic Winter Safety Tips

The key to safe winter travel is to stay within the limits of your physical abilities, the environment and your equipment. If you’re new to winter adventures like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or mountaineering, you should stick to established trails. Many ski areas have cross-country ski trails that can also be used by snowshoers. You should always check with the ski area and stay off the ski tracks. Be sure to follow trail etiquette and. In an established area, you’re never too far from other people, and you’re not likely to encounter avalanche hazards. Even though help is nearby, you should always make sure you come prepared with the appropriate gear, including warm clothing, food, water and the 10 essentials.

This is not meant to be a complete guide but to provide you with the basics to keep you safe.

Staying Found
If you plan to venture out away from a patrolled ski area, be sure you and your companions are prepared. You should always carry a topographic map of the area, a compass and optionally an altimeter or a GPS to help navigate. You need to know how to use them. The backcountry in winter is a dangerous place to learn how to use them. Before leaving, leave your trip plans with a responsible person and let them know whom to contact in case you don’t return on time.

Staying Warm and Dry
Be sure to carry extra layers for warmth. You should carry extra long-underwear in case the one you’re wearing gets wet from exertion or the weather. Know the signs of hypothermia so you can recognize them in members of your party.

Staying Hydrated
It’s at least as important to drink during cold-weather exercise as it is in summer. Not only does water keep your muscles functioning, it also helps your body fend off hypothermia. Keep your water from freezing by using an insulating cover for your bottle or backpack bladder. A vacuum bottle with a hot drink will keep you hydrated and warm. And you’ll be a star on the trail you share.

Staying Alive
If youre going into the backcountry, make sure every member of your party carries an avalanche beacon and a shovel. And make sure everyone knows how to use them. For safety, always check snow conditions before you head out and plan your trip to avoid avalanche-prone slopes. Pay attention to signs of unstable snow and either take a different route or turn back if necessary.

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