Winter Safety for Kids
Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings, or just cold temperatures – it can be an exciting time for children of all ages. The Canadian Pediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics have some valuable tips on how to keep your child safe and warm.
- Never allow children to play outside alone. Establish a buddy system with one or more of their friends and have them look out for one another. Children younger than eight years of age should always be well supervised outside.
- Check from time to time to make sure they are warm and dry.
- Have younger children take frequent breaks to come inside for a warm drink.
- Never send them outside in extreme weather conditions such as snowstorms.
- Keep them indoors if the temperature falls below –25°C, or if the wind chill is -28°C or greater.
- Tell children not to put their tongues on cold metal. It may sound silly, but some kids still do it.
- Advise them to stay away from snowplows and snowblowers.
- Help them choose play areas with a warm shelter nearby such as a friend’s home.
- Advise them to play in an area away from roads, fences and water.
- Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, even when it’s cloudy.
What to Wear
- Dress children appropriately for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. If they get too warm, they can remove one layer at a time.
- Clothing should consist of thermal long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
- The rule of thumb for young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
- Make sure they wear a hat because most body heat is lost through the head.
- Have them keep their ears covered at all times to prevent frostbite.
- Have young children wear mittens instead of gloves.
- Dress children in warm, waterproof boots that are roomy enough to wiggle their toes around.
- Always remove wet clothing and boots immediately.
- Remove all drawstrings from children’s clothing to prevent strangulation. Use velcro or other fasteners instead, and use a neck warmer instead of a scarf.
Snow forts and snow banks – Children should NOT:
- Build snow forts or make tunnels. They may collapse and suffocate a child.
- Play in or on snow banks. The driver of a snowplow or other vehicle may not see a child.
Children should NOT throw snowballs. Snowball fights can lead to injuries, especially to the eyes. Snowballs are more dangerous if the snow is hard-packed or contains a rock or some other hard object.