Winter Weather Awareness Week: Outdoor winter safety

Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:00 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Each year, the National Weather Service and Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management work to promote winter safety and preparedness to citizens during Winter Weather Awareness week. This year, Winter Weather Awareness Week is from November 14th through the 18th in Minnesota, and also Wisconsin.

Each day this week focuses on one of five different topics about winter safety information: including winter driving, winter storms, outdoor winter safety, winter fire safety, and indoor air quality during the winter.

Tuesday’s topic is outdoor winter safety and how you can keep yourself safe in the ice, cold, and snow while you’re out enjoying all of the winter activities available here in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

First, let’s start with the basics. Avoid overexerting yourself, especially when shoveling snow. Make sure to stay hydrated, keep yourself and your clothes dry, and watch out for frostbite. Warning signs of hypothermia include confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness, and stiff muscles.

Warning signs of hypothermia
Warning signs of hypothermia(KTTC)

You also want to make sure you are properly dressed for the elements. Make sure to dress warmly in loose-fitting, layered, and lightweight clothing. Don’t forget to wear a hat! As most of our body heat is lost through the top of our heads. Also, make sure to wear mittens that are tight on your wrists and use a scarf to cover your nose and mouth.

Ice fishing is one of many popular winter activities here in the Upper Midwest, but there is no such thing as 100% safe ice. Guidelines recommend a minimum ice thickness of 4 inches for walking and ice fishing, 5-7 inches for snowmobiling, 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup, and 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck. You can learn more about ice safety here.

Ice thickness guidelines
Ice thickness guidelines(KTTC)

Lastly, before you head out on the trails with your snowmobile, make sure you are up to date on the latest courses. Avoid drugs and alcohol and obey the posted speed limits on snowmobile trails. You can get more information here.