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Get outside, get active and stay safe this winter

Jan 11, 2024
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – It can be tempting to stay indoors when it is cold and dark outside.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – It can be tempting to stay indoors when it is cold and dark outside. Fortunately, winter is a great season for outdoor activities, such as skating, hiking and sledding, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) offers tips and reminders to help you get outside, get active and stay safer this winter. 

Being physically active outdoors is good for your overall health as it helps keep the body strong and improves mental well-being. Being active outdoors can be as simple as going for a walk around your neighbourhood or as action packed as lacing up a pair of skates, putting on pads and a helmet and hitting the rink for a hockey game. Remember that changing temperatures can weaken ice surfaces found on bodies of water. The ice formed on lakes, rivers or ponds may not be thick enough to walk or skate on.

Although the cold weather that we experience in Simcoe Muskoka makes it a great location for outdoor activities it can also pose health and safety risks for everyone. Snow, ice and exposure to cold and extremely cold temperatures can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems. It is important to know the weather conditions before going outside so that you can prepare and adjust your plans accordingly. When spending time outdoors, stay alert and watch for signs of  hypothermia, frostbite, and frostnip. Consider shortening children’s time outdoors when temperatures or windchill are below -20ºC and consider keeping them indoors if temperatures or windchill are drop below -27ºC.  

Dressing for the weather helps to preserve body heat when spending time outdoors and should include a base layer, a fleece or wool sweater mid-layer, and a wind/waterproof jacket. Top it off with a hat, gloves or mittens, and a scarf to cover exposed skin. Remember that winter boots are not just for keeping your feet warm and dry. A well-fitted boot with a good tread that offers stability can help prevent slips and falls on ice or in slushy and snowy conditions.

COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory viruses continue to circulate in our community. To reduce the risk of becoming ill and to protect those closest to us it is important that everyone uses multiple layers of protection such as staying up to date with vaccinations, staying home when sick, washing your hands often, and consider wearing a tight-fitting, well-constructed mask in indoor public places, especially if you are at higher risk of severe infection or are in close contact with someone at greater risk.

For more information about winter safety, visit smdhu.org/WinterSafety

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