When temperatures drop and the snow flies, kids are thrilled with the change in the weather. Eager for snow days that allow them free time to sled, make snowmen and build igloos, children give little thought to the added dangers that accompany winter. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your youngsters take the proper steps to stay safe and healthy during winter. Here are ten must-know winter safety tips for kids.
1. Use sunscreen
If you thought you could put the sunscreen away after Labor Day, think again. Winter rays, particularly when reflected off of snow, are just as likely to cause sunburn as is summer sun. Ensure that you apply sunscreen to your children’s exposed skin before they head outside. Provide them with lip balm with sunscreen as well.
2. Layer clothing
Instead of dressing children in one or two thick layers of clothing when they head outdoors, ensure that they wear several thin layers of apparel. Thin layers help hold their body heat in and shield them from winds and cool temperatures, which means they can have more fun outside.
3. Check temperatures
Even when your children beg to play outdoors, it’s up to you to determine when it’s too cold for them to go out. Allow children to play outside for a short time only when temperatures are between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit and keep them inside when the temperature is below 20 degrees. Remember, it’s vital to check temperatures every time your little ones want to play outside.
4. Consider the windchill
When deciding whether to send the kids out to play, it’s crucial that you check the windchill factor as well as the temperature. While the thermometer may read 30 degrees Fahrenheit, a bracing wind can lower the temperature considerably. Tune in to your local news or check the weather on the Internet to determine what the real “feels like” temperature is.
5. Provide cold weather gear
Even though kids often protest when you tell them to wear a hat, gloves and snow boots, let their complaints go in one ear and out the other. Winter weather gear helps prevent frostbite and hypothermia and should be non-negotiable when the kids want to go outside to play. Never allow your kids to play outside without cold weather gear.
6. Prevent slips and falls
Slips and falls are a common cause of injury during the winter months when the ground is covered in frost, snow and ice. Provide your little ones with rubber-soled footwear with a raised pattern that affords them solid footing on slippery surfaces.
7. Practice snow day safety
When the kids have a day off of school due to the weather, but you still have to go to work, ensure that they’re prepared to stay home alone. Leave meals that they can heat in the microwave instead of using the oven or stove. Teach them not to answer the door to strangers who may anticipate the fact that they’re home alone. Instruct them to wait for outdoor play until you are home to supervise them.
8. Supervise outdoor sports
Take time out from your busy schedule to supervise children when they participate in outdoor winter sports. Check sledding areas to ensure they’re not too steep, don’t lead into the path of traffic and are free from trees. Never allow children to ice skate on a frozen pond unless you know definitively that the ice is thick enough to hold their weight without cracking.
9. Use space heaters wisely
While space heaters provide a quick way to warm up a chilly room, they can be dangerous when used incorrectly. Instruct children to never place toys, clothing, blankets or other objects on or near a space heater. Make sure that they never move the heater from where you’ve positioned it.
10. Equip your car for emergencies
When traveling during the winter months, particularly with children in the car, ensure that you’re equipped for emergencies. Load the trunk with enough blankets for each member of the family in case you get stranded. Keep bottled water and a supply of snacks in the car. Ensure that you have flares, a flashlight with working batteries and a set of jumper cables.
While the winter weather presents the chance for exciting adventures, it can also be dangerous, especially for children. Take steps to protect your little ones during the coldest season of the year and ensure that everyone is safe and sound to enjoy the spring thaw when it arrives.