Keeping kids safe is one of our primary goals as parents, caregivers, teachers, and pediatric providers. Over the past two years, it can feel like there are a lot of layers to achieving that goal. While we provide regular updates on COVID-related safety via our website, email list, and Facebook page, we know that children and adolescents are still doing all the other things they usually do, including playing outside! In fact, we highly recommend that kids get at least an hour of fresh air each day. Here’s a brief guide to cold weather safety, so they can stay warm, be safe, and make the most out of the winter months!
What to Wear
- Several thin layers of clothing and outerwear help babies and kids stay warm and dry
- Warm, waterproof boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat
- A general rule for babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer than an adult would feel comfortable wearing in the same conditions
Car Seat Safety
- Store the car seat carrier inside the home between car rides, so it’s warmer when you place your child in it
- Dress your child in thin layers. Consider long underwear if the temperature is below freezing
- Remove any bulky winter outerwear before placing your child in the car seat. In a crash, this could allow the infant to slip out of the seat and be injured. Once the car seat straps are secured and tightened, place a blanket over the straps. You can consider using a car seat cover, though only if it does not have material that sits under the child in the car seat and does not cover the child’s face.
- Dress baby with hat, mittens, and booties. Consider packing an emergency bag with extras of each of these items, as well as warm clothes, to leave in the car during the cold months.
Safety Considerations for Winter Sports & Activities
- Ice Skating
- Allow children to skate only on ice posted with signs stating that they have been approved by the local recreation or police departments or at a local skating ring
- Never skate alone
- Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads while ice skating
- Supervise children while they’re sledding
- Choose a sledding hill free of trees, fences, and other obstructions with a flat runoff at the bottom
- Keep younger children separate from older children/teens on the sledding hill
- Sit or lie feet-first, rather than head-first, in the sled
- Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding
- Consider lessons with a qualified instructor while your child is learning to ski/snowboard
- Never ski/snowboard alone—young children should be supervised by an adult; if an older child is proficient and no longer requires adult supervision, they should always be with a friend
- Always wear a helmet and consider wearing goggles too
- Have ski/snowboard equipment checked for safety each year
- Avoid skiing/snowboarding on very crowded slopes and in the trees. Choose slopes that match proficiency level.
- The AAP recommends that only children 16 years and older operate snowmobiles and that children younger than 6 should not ride on them at all
- Do not pull skiers or sledders with a snowmobile
- Wear a helmet approved for use on a motorized vehicle, as well as goggles
- Never snowmobile alone or at night
- Stay on marked, approved trails and travel at safe speeds
How to prevent frostbite and hypothermia
- Whatever the activity, keep an eye on the time and encourage kids to go inside to warm up regularly
- Have your child change out of wet clothing/outerwear as soon as possible
- Avoid playing outside in temperatures or wind chills below -15 degrees Fahrenheit, as exposed skin can begin to freeze within minutes at these temperatures
With this information in mind, we hope you’re able to get outside with your family and enjoy all that winter has to offer!
Tips to Keep Kids Warm All Winter – HealthyChildren.org
Cold Weather Safety for Children – HealthyChildren.org
Winter Car Seat Safety Tips from the AAP – HealthyChildren.org