Winter safety tips while your kids are outside

Some common and fun activities kids engage in while playing outside may not be the safest ideas.

The winter season can be brutal in some parts of the United States, however, it can bring exciting outdoor activities that kids enjoy and that helps them stay active. To ensure the safety of your kids during winter months, the National Institute of Health recommends the following:

  • Check on children often and allow them to come inside for a warm drink, especially younger children.
  • Check on them regularly to make sure they are warm and dry.
  • Advise children to stay away from the roads, snowplows and snow blowers.
  • Dress children in several layers. This way if they get too warm, they can take off a layer. For smaller children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends dressing them in one more layer than an adult would wear.
  • To avoid frostbites, have children wear ear warmers and waterproof mittens. Hats are also necessary since most of the body’s heat can be lost through the head. Without wearing proper clothing, a child may suffer of hypothermia; a condition in which the body’s temperature falls below normal. Call 911 if you suspect hypothermia. Frostbites occur when the skin or outer tissues become frozen. To treat a frost bite the AAP recommends applying a warm, not hot, washcloth on the area, dry and cover the child and offer them something warm to drink. If numbness continues in the area, call a physician.
  • Have children wear waterproof snow boots. Make sure children have enough room to wiggle their toes.
  • NIH also recommends removing all drawstrings from children’s clothing to prevent strangulation and using Velcro instead.
  • Children should avoid building tunnels or forts. These can collapse and cause suffocation especially if an adult is not around.
  • As fun as snowball fighting may sound, the NIH warns that children should not throw snowballs at each other. Snowball fights can cause injuries if the snow is hard-packed or if it contains a rock or other hard objects.
  • Children must be supervised at all times when ice-skating or snowboarding.
  • It is recommended that if it gets below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, children stay inside.

Enjoy the fun winter brings you while keeping your children safe! For more tips on how to stay physically active during the winter season, contact a Michigan State University Extension educator in your area.

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