Winter Sportsmen Stay Prepared

Winter enthusiasts brave extreme cold to participate in their favorite sports – hiking, hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling to name a few. While outdoor recreation is fun, it can also be deadly unless you are well prepared. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in very quickly and often without notice. The conditions can be debilitating and even life threatening if left untreated. Savvy hobbyists know extreme cold preparedness is key to enjoying winter sports while staying safe.

Dress Appropriately

If you plan outdoor activities that will keep you in the wind or cold for long periods of time, know what type of clothes will work best for the conditions. Wearing multiple layers will protect you from the wind and cold and can be removed or added as needed.

Base layer: The first layer should be a moisture-wicking layer to prevent perspiration. Effective fabrics include synthetics like polypropylene or natural fibers like wool. Cotton should be avoided as it ventilates and will lose precious body heat.

Middle layers: Middle layers insulate the body and retain body heat. Fabric choices include nylon, fleece, wool, or down.

Outside layer: The outside layer protects you from the elements. The best fabric choices are weatherproof. Carry extra hats, scarves, socks and gloves in case you get wet.

Make Your Location Known

Family and friends should always know where to find you, particularly if you are going to be in the elements for extended periods of time. You should check in periodically to inform them of your whereabouts and that you are safe. If you build a shelter, ensure that it is visible to others.

Be Prepared

No one expects an emergency to happen but in case you run into trouble, you should arm yourself with basic knowledge of winter survival. Create a survival pack for emergency situations. It should include:

  • Non-perishable foods, e.g., jerky, dried fruit, trail mix
  • Water
  • Knife
  • Thermal blankets
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Waterproof matches
  • Waterproof tarp
  • Battery-powered radio
  • List of important phone numbers (in case your cell phone dies)


Shelter is vital to survival in extreme temperatures. Know where to seek shelter if the weather becomes extreme. Avoid solo activities and be prepared to make shelter if you are in a rural location.

Know When To Quit

Barring emergencies, you should know when to quit for the day. You may exhibit signs of frostbite or hypothermia that may not be readily apparent. Listen to your body for signs of fatigue or numbness.

Frostbite occurs before hypothermia and is often noticed when fingers and toes become numb or start to tingle and turn red. True frostbite causes extremities to turn white.

Hypothermia is life-threatening and should be taken very seriously. Warning signs include:

  • Constant shivering
  • Fumbling
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness

If you suspect you may be suffering from hypothermia, warm your body slowly. Do not rub the skin as it can cause tissue damage. Seek immediate medical attention if your body temperature drops below 95 degrees.

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