Enjoy winter outdoor activities safely

  • Published
  • By Eric Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Winter weather is upon us, but that’s no reason not to get out and enjoy what the outdoors have to offer.

Winter sports and activities are special because they’re available for only a short time. Here are some tips to help maximize your time outdoors safely this winter:

Dress for success

Dress for safety. Dress everyone in several layers of tops and pants under warm jackets and add hats, gloves or mittens, and waterproof boots.

Check for hanging drawstrings that can catch on sleds, ski lifts and other equipment. (They’re the little toggles at the end that hook onto things). Stuck drawstrings can cause serious injury, so remove them from hoods and necks and shorten those that hang from jacket bottoms.

Use short scarves, not long, and tuck them into jackets.

Fun in the sun

Even though it might seem odd in winter, don’t forget to put on sunscreen (with a minimum SPF of 15) when you’re skiing, sledding, skating or snowboarding.

Sunlight reflects off all that bright white snow and ice and back onto your face — so cover up with sunscreen and put on some lip balm containing it (even when it’s cloudy outside).

The need for speed

Zipping down a hill at what feels like a million miles an hour can be a great time — as long as you’re sledding safely.

When grabbing your sled, make sure it’s sturdy and one you can really steer. The handholds should be easy to grab, and the sled’s seat should be padded.

Never use homemade sleds like garbage-can lids, plastic bags or pool floats — these are dangerous and you may lose control while sledding. Also, never use a sled that has any sharp, jagged edges or broken parts (this might happen if you’re using an old sled).

It’s especially important to wear gloves or mittens and boots while on the sled because they can help prevent hand and foot injuries, in addition to keeping you warm. Wearing a bike helmet is also a good habit to get into — doctors say it’s a great way to protect your head while sledding.

Downhill daredevil

Before you hit the slopes to ski or snowboard, make sure you have the right equipment — and it fits you correctly.

Many kids have problems because the equipment they use is too big for them. It may have belonged to an older brother or sister and they’re hoping they can “grow into it.” Equipment that is too big will make it hard for you to keep control.

The same goes for boots and bindings — make sure these are the right size for your feet before getting on the slopes. Ski boots designed just for kids are a good bet because they’re more flexible than boots for adults, and they have buckles that are easier to manage, too — making it quicker for you to get skiing.

Helmets are a must for skiing and snowboarding. Goggles will protect your eyes from bright sunlight and objects that could get in the way and poke you in the eye (like tree branches).

Similar to in-line skating, snowboarders need knee and elbow pads. Some just learning even wear specially padded pants to cushion their falls.

This should give you a good start on approaching your winter outdoor activities with safety in mind. For more information, contact the 88th Air Base Wing’s Occupational Safety Office at 937-904-3391.