In the winter, it’s important to adapt your outdoor activities to minimize the risk of accidents and maximize your comfort. With our increasingly temperamental weather, we have to prepare for a variety of scenarios.
First, always check the weather forecast for the day. Weather science has greatly evolved and short-term forecasts are usually quite accurate. Pay particular attention to the wind chill factor, as it can markedly increase the risk of frostbite. In very cold weather, limit the duration of your outdoor activities or go back indoors regularly to warm up. In temperatures below -20°C, it may be best to opt for an indoor activity, especially if young children are involved.
Ideally, wear several layers of clothing. That way, you can remove a layer if you’re too warm, and put it back on if you get cold. For the layers closest to your body, choose breathable fabrics such as wool and certain synthetic materials (e.g. polar fleece).
Make sure to adequately protect your extremities (hands, feet, head, ears and nose). In low temperatures, the body focuses its energies on keeping essential organs warm. As a result, extremities tend to lose their heat more quickly. During outdoor activities where you don’t move very much (e.g. snowmobiling), heat packs can be an effective way to keep your hands and feet warm.
Don’t forget to stay well hydrated. It’s just as important in the winter as it is in the summer, even though you may not feel the need to do so.
Lastly, if you suffer from a chronic illness, ask your pharmacist or doctor whether you need to take special precautions.