Soon, winter jackets and snow boots will begin to reappear and it’s important to remember that your clothing is not the only thing that needs to be adjusted with a change of season. Here are a few cold weather safety tips to keep you safe, warm, and healthy heading into the New Year.
Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, ice fishing, or bird watching, always tell someone where you are going and what you are doing. Everyone needs a little alone time, but don’t forget to mention the details of your planned excursion so that your friends and family know when to expect you back or where to look for you in the event of an accident.
As always, be prepared with plenty of water and first aid items to prevent any small incidents from becoming an emergency. Flashlights, maps, and snacks are also good additions to the safety pack. As with any activity outdoors, know what you are and are not capable of before heading out.
If operating recreational vehicles, such as snow mobiles or dirt bikes (Note: DCR trails are closed for the season to dirt bikes and other off-highway vehicles, other than snow mobiles), remember to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Also, take caution during bad weather and at night, making sure to stay aware of your speed and surroundings. For ice fishers, check that ponds and rivers are completely frozen before venturing out onto the ice. Exercise more caution when the temperatures are reaching 32 degrees F.
Be prepared for anything. Don’t let New England’s unpredictable weather patterns leave you cold and wet in the middle of the woods. Get updated weather information before you set off and plan accordingly. Be ready to respond to unexpected weather with extra clothing, gloves, and hats. If planning to be outside for a long period of time, bring extra layers to add as the temperature drops. It’s all about layers: rather than wearing one heavy coat, use thermal underwear and undershirts to layer light-weight, warm clothing, and always wear a waterproof outer layer.
For hunters and hikers and everyone in between, wear bright clothing to maintain visibility past 5 pm. The fall and winter seasons bring a lot of activity into the great outdoors, so always be aware and respectful of others.
As always, officers from the Massachusetts Environmental Police are prepared for the upcoming cold weather months. They'll be patrolling off-road areas, as well as coastal and inland waters, and doing everything they can to protect the state’s residents and visitors. Enjoy all that Massachusetts has to offer with these cold weather safety tips and always use your best judgment.