Personal Cold Weather Safety Tips

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  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Use things like thermal underwear, undershirts, track suits, sweaters, snowsuits, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Be sure that your outer layer is tightly woven and windproof.
  • Wear wool - it is a popular material for cold because it will keep you warmer than cotton when damp or wet.
  • Wear mittens over gloves - layering works for your hands as well.
  • Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs


  • Restrict infants' outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Dress children warmly and in bright colors. Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.


  • Check on elderly family and neighbors. The elderly are particularly susceptible to cold-related illness.
  • Ensure elderly family and neighbors have adequate heat and nutritious food.

Winter Activities & Sports

  • Don't ski, ice skate, snowboard, or sled alone.
  • Make sure kids are wearing helmets when they are skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and playing ice hockey. Parents should also wear helmets - remember, your children learn safety habits by watching you.
  • Teach children to only sled on terrain that is free of obstacles. Make sure the bottom of the slope is far from streets and traffic. Always use a sled with a steering mechanism. Don't lie flat while sledding downhill. Don't overload a sled with children.
  • Skate only in areas that have been approved for skating. Teach children to skate in the same direction as the crowd to avoid collision. Avoid darting across the ice and never skate alone.
  • Enroll in at least one ski lesson. Use caution around lifts, control speed, and be aware of other skiers. Wear eye and sun protection. Ski helmets are recommended.

Spending Time Outdoors

  • Don't stay out in the cold. If you have to stay out in the cold for work, be sure to take frequent breaks where it is warm.
  • Avoid getting wet. Moisture can speed the onset of hypothermia and can be very dangerous. If you expect to get wet, keep a dry set of clothing nearby - especially a hat, gloves, socks, and boots.
  • Drink non-caffeinated fluids. Dehydration occurs more quickly in cold, dry weather. Be sure to keep yourself well hydrated, especially if you are exerting yourself.

Frostbite & Hypothermia

  • Cover exposed skin and watch for frostbite. In extreme cold, frostbite can happen in under a minute. Wind only makes the risk greater - make sure to cover all exposed skin. The symptoms of frostbite include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1.
  • If you suspect that a person is suffering from Hypothermia, don't give hot drinks or hot food; raise the legs or place hot water bottles on feet; do not place the person in a hot shower or bath; do not give any alcohol or drugs; do not massage the arms or legs.
  • In an emergency, call a doctor, ambulance, rescue squad or local emergency room; handle the person very gently; protect the person from the cold with blankets, quilts, towels or extra clothes; ensure that the persons head and neck are covered.
  • Don't drink alcohol. Alcohol can speed the onset and worsen the effects of hypothermia.

Physical Activity

  • Keep moving. Your body generates its own heat when you engage in physical activity. Moving will help keep you warm.
  • Don't overexert yourself. Cold weather can exacerbate underlying respiratory illness. Be careful about exerting yourself in extreme cold.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. Be sure to stop shoveling if you have shortness of breath, heavy sweating, or any kind of pain. Avoid shoveling if you are elderly or have a heart condition.
  • Stretch before going outside to shovel.
  • Take frequent breaks from shoveling, even if only for a couple of minutes.
  • Use a smaller shovel and make sure your shovel isn't bent, tilting, or damaged.
  • Keep pets indoors. Pets suffer in the cold just like humans, yet they have little means to protect themselves. Help your pets stay warm by keeping them indoors!

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