And How to Avoid Them
Feeling the cold all the way down to your bones seems to be just a part of this time of year for those of us in the temperate climate zones. The average temperature hovers around freezing or dips quite a bit below that for most of January and February. These are the days I’m most tempted to hibernate in my fuzzy socks and wool sweaters with a mug of coffee in hand.
On the other hand, this is the prime time of winter activity! There are snowmen to be built, trails to hike in snowshoes, sledding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling to do. There are myriad options to enjoy the outdoors this season. Whichever you choose, you will need to consider two frosty killjoys that could spoil your fun and prevent them from interfering with your good time. These two are frostbite and hypothermia.
These are the days I’m most tempted to hibernate in my fuzzy socks and wool sweaters with a mug of coffee in hand.
Frostbite occurs when water in your cells freezes. There are different degrees of frostbite ranging from very mild surface freezing called “frost nip” to fourth degree frostbite. Hypothermia, medically speaking, is when your body temperature drops to 95 F or lower. These can both be serious conditions that we want to prevent for all our trail family members.
To prevent these conditions you have to, as we say in the northeast, “bundle up!” You’ll want to wear layers including a base layer under your main garments. In the snow you will also want a snowsuit/waterproof layer. And of course include hats, gloves, and scarves for all family members. When I went snowshoeing my outer layer was not sufficient for wicking moisture away. They were leggings that kept me warm, but the snow flying up behind me stuck right to them. So I had one cold spot on the back of my legs just above my boots where the snow collected and made a wet spot. Next time I’ll wear snow pants as my outer layer.
Hydration and eating enough is an important factor in preventing hypothermia according to medlineplus.gov. Basically you have to fuel your body in order for it to keep you warm. A carbohydrate snack is sufficient for quick energy when you are out playing in the snow for a little while. But if you are out on a long trek, skiing, or snowmobiling all day, you need protein as well as carbs. For hydration, cold water or a hot drink are best. My kids love to eat snow and ice, but too much will cool you down from the inside out. Stay tuned for our favorite Hot Cocoa from scratch recipe!
We hope this post will help you get all the fun you can get out of this winter season. Avoid those frosty killjoys so you can stay safe and make great memories with your family.
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