The weather outside may be frightful, but with a few safety tips, the family fun can last all year long!
Author: Joanne Kinsey, M.S., CFCS, Family & Community Health Sciences, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, NJ Cooperative Extension
Winter weather brings special challenges and is a time to pay attention to your health when exercising outdoors. Trying to stay warm and protect your skin from the sun is important even if the air and wind are brutally cold. In addition, maintaining an active lifestyle can also be a challenge when the weather turns chilly. Below are a few tips for protecting yourself and your family when exercising outdoors during the cold winter months:
- Be aware of the wind chill factor before planning an outdoor activity. Dress warmly in several layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing. Add a waterproof coat, hat, gloves, a scarf or knit mask to cover your face, and waterproof boots when planning on spending time outdoors.
- Eat and drink wisely. Well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages – they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
- Use a palm-full of sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher everyday before going outdoors. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while exercising outdoors.
- Teach children not to venture out onto frozen ponds and lakes without checking with an adult about the safety of the ice.
- When hiking, be prepared for weather-related emergencies by carrying an up-to-date emergency kit that includes first-aid supplies, a snack, bottled water, and a small flashlight.
- Notify friends and family before going hiking, camping, or skiing.
- Take a break when you begin to feel fatigue. Watch for signs of cold weather health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, drowsiness, weak pulse and shallow breathing. Frostbite may be present when an individual feels tingling and loss of sensitivity to the affected skin. Get help if any of these symptoms or conditions appear.
For additional information:
CDC: Be Prepared, Staying Safe and Healthy in Winter Months
CDC Family Health: Holiday Health and Safety Tips
Extreme Cold, A Prevention Guide to Promote Health and Safety
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