Sunday, November 16, 2014

Staying Safe in the Parks this Winter

Photo by Joyce Keough

The onset of cold weather can transform the outdoors into a winter wonderland, full of opportunities for you to enjoy skiing, ice skating, sledding, ice fishing and snowshoeing. While creating lasting winter memories, be sure to take proper safety precautions.

Make a plan. Always make sure that someone knows where you are. Inform a friend or relative if you are going out and when you plan to return.

Check the weather report. Heed precautions and advisories. If weather warnings suggest a severe wind chill or extremely low temperatures, consider avoiding outdoor
activities until the weather improves.

Wear the gear. Avoid frostbite and hypothermia by dressing in loose, comfortable layers, wearing proper footwear and keeping your head, ears and hands covered
(wind and water resistant fabrics provide the best protection). Don’t forget your sunglasses!

Supervise children. Adult supervision is the best protection for children. Be sure to watch for signs of hypothermia or frostbite.

Avoid hazards. Survey the area and identify the potential danger spots; deep snow can camouflage obstacles and water features. Be extremely cautious on ice!

Protect what counts. Always wear your helmet and/or protective goggles when participating in winter activities like snowmobiling, skiing and skating.

Take a break. During any extended outdoor winter activity, be sure to come inside for regular breaks and stay hydrated. Give yourself a chance to warm up every
couple of hours with a cup of hot cocoa or other warm drink.

Alcohol and winter activities don’t mix. Stay sober while participating in any winter activities.

Limit winter travel. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is stocked with emergency equipment, the gas tank is at least half-full and be prepared to handle the slick road conditions. Keep all of your vehicle’s windows, mirrors and lights clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving.

Sled safe.

Don’t sled in parking areas, roadways, rivers or lakes. Always ride sitting and facing forward (going down head first increases the chance of head and spinal injuries). Sledding equipment should be in good repair without sharp edges. Avoid “jumps” that send a rider airborne—the higher they fly, the harder they fall. The building of such “jumps” is a violation of Park Rule 5.1(e) and the offender can be cited. Watch for other sledders and walk up the side when returning to the top of the hill.

Enjoy sledding at four hills throughout Lake Metroparks:

Chagrin River Park | 3100 Reeves Rd., Willoughby
•   Moderate hill located off the Riverwood Trail

Chapin Forest Reservation | 10381 Hobart Rd., Kirtland
•   Small hill used primarily by cross-country skiers to practice control skills

Hidden Valley Park | 4880 Klasen Rd., Madison Twp.
•   Moderate sledding hill located next to parking lot

Riverview Park | 4895 Bailey Rd., Madison Twp.
•   Hill steeper than Hidden Valley hill—located next to parking lot

Watch the ice.

Ice conditions are highly variable and can change quickly due to weather conditions and water currents. Please use extreme caution and ensure ice is thick enough and safe before you venture onto any ice.

Please note the following:

•   Lake Metroparks does not monitor ice conditions.
•   Whenever you are in doubt of the ice condition, stay off the ice.
•   Children should never be on the ice without adult supervision.
•   You should not travel alone on the ice.
•   Beware of thin ice in and around partially  submerged structures, embankments, vegetation and along dams or spillways.
•   Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas, moving water and darker areas that may signify thin ice.

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