Seven tips for staying safe in frigid weather | Science News for Students

Seven tips for staying safe in frigid weather

Being prepared can make a world of difference when you’re expecting to be out in frigid weather
Jan 12, 2017 — 7:05 am EST
enjoying cold weather

Even when it’s super frosty outdoors, you can enjoy yourself and the environment — especially if you take these precautions.


Taking simple precautions can dramatically reduce your risks in cold conditions and let you fully enjoy being, well, freezing. Here are a few:

   Bring and wear proper gear. Big tip: Don’t wear cotton! When it gets wet, air pockets in this fabric will fill up with water so that it stops insulating you. And it takes a long time to dry.

☐  Take a buddy and stay close together.  If something happens to one of you, the other now can give aid or call for help.

☐  Before you leave home, study a map. Tell a friend or family member exactly where you’re going, what you’re doing and when you plan to return. Then take the map with you and stick to the plan.

☐  Learn about the weather, terrain and elevation of where you will be traveling. Do this well before you leave. And be prepared for sudden weather changes.

☐  Know basic first-aid techniques, such as CPR, just in case. Free CPR classes are often taught at city recreation centers and American Red Cross centers.

☐  Stay hydrated when you’re out. This is important even when it’s very chilly. That’s because the air you breathe is dry, explains Michael Tipton. He’s a cold-weather expert at the University of Portsmouth in England. As your body warms that inhaled air, you will make it damper. In the process, you lose water through your breathing organs, especially your nose and lungs. And keep in mind that you being dehydrated can harm your performance. You can even die from it.

☐  If you’re going to be exercising in the cold, pay even more attention to staying hydrated, because you can sweat out some of your fluids as you work. Also wear layers of clothing so that you can take off one if you’re too hot, but then put it back on as you slow down – and cool down.

Power Words

(more about Power Words)

CPR   Short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A first-aid technique that involves performing chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing on a patient.

elevation     The height or altitude at which something exists.

fabric     Any flexible material that is woven, knitted or can be fused into a sheet by heat.

hydrate     (noun: hydration) To restore the proper level of fluids in the body.

organ     (in biology) Various parts of an organism that perform one or more particular functions. For instance, an ovary is an organ that makes eggs, the brain is an organ that interprets nerve signals and a plant’s roots are organs that take in nutrients and moisture.

physiologist    A scientist who studies the branch of biology that deals with the bodies of healthy organisms function under normal circumstances.

risk     The chance or mathematical likelihood that some bad thing might happen. For instance, exposure to radiation poses a risk of cancer. Or the hazard — or peril — itself. Among cancer risks that the people faced were radiation and drinking water tainted with arsenic.

terrain     The land in a particular area and whatever covers it. The term might refer to anything from a smooth, flat and dry landscape to a mountainous region covered with boulders, bogs and forest cover.

weather     Conditions in the atmosphere at a localized place and a particular time. It is usually described in terms of particular features, such as air pressure, humidity, moisture, any precipitation (rain, snow or ice), temperature and wind speed. Weather constitutes the actual conditions that occur at any time and place. It’s different from climate, which is a description of the conditions that tend to occur in some general region during a particular month or season


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Journal: J. Castellani et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: Prevention of cold injuries during exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol. 38, 2006, p. 2012. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000241641.75101.64.