Homeland Security and Emergency Management

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Outdoor Winter Safety

outdoor-safety-web.jpgThe sections below provide some basic information and fact sheets about the most common risks and hazards and how to prepare for or avoid them. For more detailed information or question about these topics, refer to the contact or links on each sheet.

Thin Ice

When is ice safe? There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors. In addition the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, distribution of load on the ice and local climate conditions all play a factor. 

DNR Ice Safety Tips

Keeping Children Safe 

While freezing winter temperatures keep many adults indoors, children may want to play outside all day. Each year, emergency rooms in the United States treat thousands of children for injuries related to sledding and ice skating. Frostbite is also threat for children.

Winter Safety Checklist:   Families and Children

Access and Functional Needs 

Minnesotans who use a wheelchair, rely on home-delivered meals or are visually impaired are among those who need to pre-plan during extremely cold weather. Ready.gov has tips.

Winter Sports and Activities

Minnesotans spend almost as much time outdoors in winter, having fun and recreation, as they do in summer.  Adults and kids love to go snowmobiling, skiing, ice skating, sledding and many other activities all season long.  With just a few precautions and smart behavior, those activities should be safe and fun! 

Winter Safety Checklist:  Sports and Act​ivities

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite is the freezing of skin and extremities on the body. The nose, cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes (your extremities) are the most commonly affected. Everyone is susceptible, even people who have been living in cold climates for most their lives.

In very cold weather, a person's body can lose heat faster than they can produce it. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. It can make a person sleepy, confused and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects one's thinking, it may not be immediately recognized.

CDC Frostbite and Hypothermia Awareness

How to stay warm in the winter

Snow Shoveling

While shoveling snow can be good exercise, it can also be deadly for optimistic shovelers who take on more than they can handle.