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February 18, 2019

Emergency Management: Outdoor Winter Activity Safety Tips

Be safe during any outdoor winter activities. Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management has shared some helpful tips. Be safe during any outdoor winter activities. Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management has shared some helpful tips. (City Photo/Darrell Shoemaker)

A message from Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management:

As our area continues to receive cold temperatures, here’s some things to keep in mind if you are planning to be outside hiking, camping, skiing or participating in any lengthy outdoor activity in cold winter temperatures.

Be Safe During Activity

  • Notify friends and family where you are going and what you are doing before you go out.
  • Let friends and family know when you plan to be back.
  • Plan to be in groups of two or more.
  • Do not leave areas of the skin exposed to the cold.
  • Avoid walking on ice or getting wet and be prepared for areas of deep snow.
  • Carry a whistle or noise device to call for help if you fall and are injured.
  • Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Depending on your location, you may encounter dangerous wildlife.
  • If your activity takes you off of improved trails, you may encounter dead and downed timber, unstable terrain. jagged, slippery rock and sudden drop-offs.
  • Keep in mind, cold temperatures deplete your cell phone batteries quickly (and other electronics), don’t rely on it for emergency communications.
  • Plan activities in daylight hours and return with plenty of time when you can see well and find your route back to where you started, consider a GPS device.

Dressing for cold weather:

  • Dress in layers. Avoid cotton clothing; instead, wear wool or other insulating fabrics that will keep you warmer and make sure your outer-most layers are waterproof.
  • Try to keep mittens and gloves dry. Carry spare pairs in case they get wet.
  • Wear a hat. About 40 percent of our body heat can escape through our heads.
  • Wear shoes or boots that fit appropriately. Use closures (laces, Velcro or buckles) to ensure a secure fit. Depth and sole pattern are important in snow, but the material of the outsole is most important. Rubber soles grip best in colder temperatures.
  • When needed, use aids such as canes, walking sticks or walkers
  • Frostnip is an early warning sign of frostbite. It leaves the skin white and numb. Frostbite occurs mostly on fingers, toes, ears, noses and cheeks. The affected area will become very cold and turn white or yellowish gray. If you notice frostbite, get medical care immediately.

Be Cautious About Travel:

  • Listen for radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service.
  • Do not travel or recreate in low visibility conditions, ie. blizzard, high winds.
  • Check and restock the winter emergency supplies in your car before you leave. Be sure to include some food, water, a first-aid kit, extra blankets and gloves.
  • Always carry additional warm clothing appropriate for the winter conditions.

Visit www.pennco.org/winter for other winter weather safety tips.