Top 10 Winter Safety Tips

Christopher Dyrland-Marquis  |   Wednesday Dec. 1st, 2021

Winter in Montana can be a formidable time of year. But, with the right know-how, you can ensure that your escapades through Bozeman’s winter wonderland end in smiles. Read on to learn some useful tips about keeping safe through the big freeze.

Wear Layers
Almost everyone has heard this one: if a worried relative isn’t calling to remind you to put on a jacket as you leave the house, it’s probably summer. Dressing in layers is a time-proven practice to keep you toasty warm in the snow. By shedding layers as you heat up, you can maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid the shivers. Be careful, though—sweating is dangerous in cold temperatures and can quickly lead to hypothermia—so don’t keep wearing them if they’re too hot!

Watch Your Step
Slipping on ice can prove to be a fairly jarring experience, especially if you aren’t prepared for it. This makes sense: a fairly normal stride in any other season can’t swiftly regress into wild bouts of arm-waving, hollering, and bruised tailbones. While we all know someone who seems to make an Olympic sport out of acrobatically spinning out of control, the rest of us can effectively avoid such a fate by keeping our eyes peeled for slick spots. And should you find yourself having to traverse an ice patch, simply walk in short shuffles like a penguin. You’ll be in the clear before you know it! 

Maintain Tires
If you haven’t heard this yet, let me be the first to tell you: make sure your car’s tires are prepared for the winter! Icy roads become incredibly slick as temperatures fall, and leave all ill-treaded vehicles (whether four-wheel drive trucks or front-drive sedans) spinning to stop for traffic lights. Investing in good winter tires can prevent all-too-common fender bender headaches, and keep you safe when you’re out on the roads. 

Pack Appropriately
Knowing what to bring along for the trips we plan can be difficult, but during months of frigid wind and ice, a few utilities are essential to have around. If you tend to occasionally get your vehicle stuck in snow, keeping a few bags of cat litter accessible can help give your tires the extra traction they need to dig themselves out. Likewise, procuring a sturdy shovel can prove invaluable for any tasks that require snow removal or digging. Whatever you’re up to this winter, be sure to think about what items you might need in case of an emergency!  

Call Ahead
As careful as anyone can be, no one can prepare for everything. And winter’s sub-zero temperatures can quickly turn any minor inconvenience into a battle against exposure. By notifying others about the routes you plan to take, and when to expect you on trips, commutes, or for other activities, you can provide a safety net of contingency to fall back on. Clearly communicating your travel plans
can help people find you quickly if you encounter any unexpected mishaps and end up in a dangerous situation.

Drive Slowly
Poor road conditions occur every year in Bozeman; often, they just can’t be avoided. Though bad weather might intimidate winter drivers, the best thing travelers can do to stay safe is just slow down. By giving yourself a little more stopping distance, you can safely maneuver wherever your heart desires. Conversely, most accidents that will happen in Bozeman this winter will have been perfectly avoidable—simply by being a bit more patient!

Winterize Your Locks
If there happens to be much moisture in the door or car locks you operate on a daily basis, you might find yourself frustratingly barred outside on a cold day, even with an appropriate key! With freezing temperatures quickly approaching, being locked out might even prove problematic if you find yourself with nowhere else to retreat. Winterizing the locks you use can ensure they stay functional all-year-round: simply spray a minute amount of WD-40, or any other water displacement fluid inside them and enjoy your new-found peace of mind!

Know the Weather
Knowledge is power, and in the case of winter safety, prior knowledge on weather forecasts is the kind of power that can keep you well-informed and full of cheer this season! Paying attention to what the weather will be on any given day can consistently provide you with useful information on how to prepare for activities you might be interested in, all while keeping you up-to-date on the general atmospheric events to expect. No one would want to be caught off guard in a blizzard, so check the weather before you go.

Keep an Eye Out!
A wholesome and important element of winter in Montana is the positive community camaraderie that develops as weather begins to sour. From cold weather jump-starts, to snow-buried vehicles needing a tow—everyone occasionally needs a bit of help—and if you don’t help, who will? Selfless community actions have developed Bozeman into the wonderful town it is today, so keep an eye out for any neighbors in need. Next time, you might be the one who needs a hand!   

Stay Active
It can be easy to fall into reclusive behavior as the days get shorter, but resist it as much as you can! By exercising regularly and taking advantage of the outdoors when possible, you can promote your mental health, and avoid any pitfalls inherent in seasonal mood changes. Be sure to also consider drinking more milk, or finding other sources of Vitamin D to compensate for the season’s fleeting sunlight!

There is no shortage of risks and situations to assess and avoid during cold Montana winters. From knowing when to stay home in foul weather, to essential items to bring with you when you drive, winter safety is a legitimate, ongoing concern that residents ought to acknowledge in their daily activities. Thankfully, the friendly communities we are a part of providing helpful, flexible learning curves to quickly make winter experts of us all!

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