The winter months are here! It’s that time of year when some of us nest and hibernate and others look longingly outside anticipating the rush of winter activities that are finally ours to enjoy. If you fall into the latter category there is an abundance of options to fill the upcoming months with active living! If you are one of the hibernating, blanket-wrapped varieties, why not make this year the one that you get out and try something new!
While you search for fun and relaxation to enjoy the winter snows and chills though, remember to keep yourself safe while you explore. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The Best Laid Plans
One of the most basic, and often overlooked, safeguards is to make sure that someone knows your plans. Whether you are heading out for a few hours, a day or an extended overnight trip, leave your activity plan information with someone who will check up to make sure that you’re back safely when you plan to be. Even if you are going with a travel partner, someone back home needs to know where you went and when you’ll be expected back – and don’t stray from the plan! As tempting as that off path trail may look, stick to your plan. Tuck that new and exciting place away for another trip out.
Not just a old Scouting motto but great advice. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for the activity that you have planned. That may mean layers that you can take off or put on as needed. Winter sports mean cold temperatures and seating bodies which need special care to avoid both overheating and hypothermia as possibilities. Have enough water with you for extended times of active exertion. You need just as much hydration during winter sports as you do in the warmer weather. Know what you need to be safe and make sure you have it with you; wet weather resistant gear, headlamps or flashlights (darkness comes on early and quickly in the winter months!), snacks, water and communication tools (flares, mirrors for flashing – remember that many areas we love to explore do not have cell service) are some ideas to keep in mind.
Know Your Limits
Knowing your level of experience – and respecting it – is important in order to be safe and have fun. Have you always wanted to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? Those are two of the top activities in the winter that catch people off guard with abilities and reality. Just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is. The technique and endurance necessary for both of these activities in particular are very often underestimated.
Local ski hills and resorts have packages and instruction times available to help you learn the basics of those sports that you have always wanted to give a try. Expert instruction and advice will go a long way to making certain that you have a solid foundation to build on for years of fun to come.
Know Your Surroundings
Take some time before you head out to get acquainted with where you will be going. What are the risks and how can you reduce your exposure to them? There are great sites for tracking avalanche risk areas, information on weather patterns and even ice level safety for lake skating. Check out the local resource sites in your area and plan accordingly.
The winter months offer so many unique and amazing opportunities for outdoor adventure. Especially here in BC, the abundance of natural space feels limitless! Make this winter your time to try something new and fun – just be safe doing it!