Children and snow: a combination made for fun. However, responsible parents know that there are dangers lurking for little ones during the winter season, and they will monitor their offspring carefully when they are outside, to assure their safety. Children should be kept inside during severe winter weather, such as blizzards or heavy snow falls.
Winter Wear for Outdoors
For outdoor play, children should be dressed warmly in several layers of clothes: thermal underwear, one or two shirts, waterproof pants, sweater, coat, one or two pair of warm socks, boots, mittens and hat. They need sunscreen on exposed areas of skin even when it’s cloudy, because the sun’s UV rays are reflected off the snow.
Long scarves and any drawstrings on clothing could become caught and cause accidental choking. They should be replaced by hoods, neck warmers, snaps or Velcro closings.
Hands and feet are usually good indicators of your child’s comfort level. When these extremities are warm, their clothing is probably appropriate for winter weather.
General Safety Rules
Children should not be outside alone in winter. They should be supervised by an adult, be with a buddy or be playing in a group. They should be called indoors often for a warm drink. They should be warned not to eat snow; it might be dirty.
Children should be warned to stay away from snowploughs and snow-blowers.
The play area should be away from streets, fences or water. Children must not climb on roadside snow banks. They might fall into the path of oncoming traffic.
They must be very careful crossing streets. Drivers can lose control of their vehicles on icy surfaces. Car windows could be covered with frost, ice or fast-falling snow and prevent the driver from seeing a child in his path.
Snowball fights should be banned. An embedded piece of ice in a snowball could cause a serious eye injury.
Tunnels in the snow or high snow forts are risky; they could collapse and suffocate a child.
Warn your child not to put metal objects near his mouth. His lips or tongue could freeze to the metal.
Sleighs and Toboggans
Children under 5 should not go down a hill alone on a sleigh or toboggan.
All children on sleighs or toboggans should wear approved ski or hockey helmets. Bicycle helmets are not sufficiently safe in cold temperatures.
Sleighs which can be steered are safer than saucers or inner tubes. Sitting or kneeling on a sleigh, rather than lying on one’s stomach, will reduce the risk of head or spinal injury.
Sleigh-riding near a street or on a crowded hill can be dangerous. Parents should see to it that the children choose a hill that has no trees, fences or other obstacles in their path.
It is advisable to ride or toboggan down the middle of a hill, then to walk up along the side, to avoid collisions.
Sleigh-riding or tobogganing should be done during daylight. Adults should only venture out in the evening if the hill is very well illuminated, and then they should supervise the youngsters constantly and carefully.
Outdoor play in winter is very beneficial for children. It is excellent exercise; it helps them become familiar with environmental weather conditions in every season, and promotes socialization with peers and adults. In the process of garnering all these benefits, the young people will also have lots of fun.
Surprisingly, the parents who follow and monitor their offspring to ensure their safety in the frosty winter’s ice and snow, may actually find that they are having fun too!.