As Canadians, we like to make the most out of the winter, and Scouting’s a big part of that. There are many winter activities that help make the snow and cold fun, but it’s important to enjoy them safely. Here are some quick tips to play safe in the winter.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Learn to fall
Falling down safely is a valuable lesson when learning how to ski or snowboard. Fall in a controlled way so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone around you.
Areas are roped off for a reason. Don’t go ducking under ropes or finding ways around fences. The trails there are not groomed or patrolled. You could get seriously hurt going off the trail.
Be aware of the Alpine Responsibility Code that most ski hills in Canada use.
Snowshoeing and Cross-Country skiing
Know your route
It can be easy to get lost if you go off the trails. Bring a map and compass with you if you plan to do any off-trail trekking. Ski with a buddy.
Know your limits
It’s important to know your individual skill level. Perhaps a slope is too steep or a path too icy for you to attempt. Help could be a long way off, so make the safe decision.
People tend to ignore hydrating in the winter because it’s not hot. You still need fluids, though, so pack a thermos and bring something warm!
Dress the part
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are hard work! Remember to dress in layers so you can take a layer off if you are starting to overheat.
Avalanches can pose a significant risk in the mountains of Western Canada. Please visit Avalanche Canada’s website to get information on current best practices.
Dress to avoid hypothermia. Keep your head, ears and hands covered to avoid frostbite.
Skate where you know
Skate in locations you know are safe, especially when you’re accompanied by children. If skating outside, use community rinks or ponds. They will have notices if they are closed for any reason.
Don’t be reckless
Building jumps, playing “chicken” with oncoming toboggans, and seeing how many people can fit on a toboggan at one time are all ways of taking a fun activity and making it unnecessarily risky.
Inspect the hill
Choose a hill that’s not too steep, and make sure it has a safe space to stop at the bottom. Inspect the hill for rocks, ice and other hazards before tobogganing.
Watch for other tobogganers
Share the hill. Wait until the way is clear before setting off, and watch up the hill for anyone headed your way once you’ve reached the bottom. Walk up the hill on the side, out of the way of tobogganers headed down.
Check out our Helmet Safety Guidelines from May 2016 to choose the right helmet for the right activity!