With the New Year comes cold winter weather in many parts of the country, so what can you do during these long, dark months of cold, snow, sleet and rain to help keep your children safe and warm? Be aware that little ones lose their body heat more rapidly than adults and they are also less able to understand and express to you when they are starting to feel cold.
Winter Safety Tips for Kids:
- Be vigilant: Check on your kids frequently when they are playing outdoors and if you notice them getting wet or they look visibly cold, bring them indoors.
- Teach toddlers the difference between warm and cold temperatures. Reinforce this during bath time with the water, or when playing indoors as opposed to outdoors.
- Dress children in layers: A rule of thumb is that children should be wearing one more layer than adults, and always keep their heads, hands and feet covered & protected.
- Keep children hydrated: Offer water, warm cocoa or soups frequently.
- Teach safety: Demonstrate the proper way to shovel snow, sled, ice skate, etc and always supervise these activities.
- Wear sunscreen: Yes! Sun is reflected off the snow and kids can get sunburned even when playing outdoors in the winter.
- Add waterproof layers: Try to make sure that outer layers of clothing offer some waterproof protection because children whose clothing gets wet will become colder faster.
- For children with disabilities: Remember that children with physical or cognitive limitations may become colder faster because they are not moving around or because they simply cannot articulate that they are cold and need to go inside.
- Pack an emergency bag for your car: Keep extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and mittens (and snacks) in your car in case there is a rapid change in the weather during a road trip, or the kids get wet on an outing or you get stranded on a snowy road.
- Learn the danger signs of hypothermia: Remember that in addition to elderly people, infants and young children are more susceptible to it when they don’t have adequate heat or warm clothing, or have been exposed to the elements for too long. Signs of hypothermia include: shivering, shallow breathing, loss of coordination, confusion, cold to the touch bright red skin or pale gray blistering skin on the fingers, toes, ears or nose. If you suspect hypothermia, bring the child to a warm, safe place and remove any wet clothing immediately. Use warm water, but not hot, and apply to affected areas. Dress them in warm clothing, cover them with extra blankets and call 9-1-1 as this can be a potentially life threatening condition.