- Dress your child in several warm layers of clothes.
- Pay attention to the National Weather Service's winter weather advisories regarding wind chill and rain. If it is damp or windy outside, hypothermia — which occurs when body temperature drops drastically below normal — can occur in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees.
- Set reasonable time limits on how long your children can play outdoors. Base these limits on weather conditions.
- Dress your children in bright colors if they are playing or walking outdoors in snowy conditions.
- Keep infants inside if it is colder than 40 degrees. Babies lose body heat faster than children and adults.
Although it's tempting for kids to play or skate on a frozen pond, it's important that they never go on or near frozen water unless they have an adult's approval.
- Have an adult supervise children when they play near frozen lakes or ponds.
- Only allow children to venture out or skate on lakes and ponds that have been approved for skating. Look for signs posted by the police or recreation department saying that the ice is safe.
- Never assume that the ice on a frozen pond or lake will hold even a child's weight. Even if the ice is strong in one area, it might be unsafe in another spot Avoid dark ice or honeycombed ice (ice that has air bubbles or snow crystals trapped in it), which is weaker and may break under a child's weight. Ice on moving water, such as rivers and streams, is never safe.
If someone falls through the ice, it's important to act quickly. The lower the temperature of the water, the faster hypothermia will set in.
- Call 911.
- Don't go out on the ice after them. You may fall in, too, and be unable to make a rescue or get yourself out.
- Stay anchored on dry land and try to reach the person with a branch, rope or other sturdy item.
- Throw something that will float to them.
- Tell the person in the water to spread their arms and hands out on the unbroken ice and kick their feet to help them keep their head above water and conserve energy.
- Teach children that only adults should use snowblowers. Children can become seriously injured or killed by being caught in snowblowing machines.
- Never try to clear snow or debris from the machine while it is still running. Always stop the engine first.
- Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area. Carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving the engine running in an area such as a garage can cause deaths.
Sledding is a great way to have fun in the snow, but being careful is essential. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 46,000 sledding injuries are seen in hospital emergency rooms every year. Most are children under the age of 15 with head injuries.
- Choose a hill for your children to sled on that is away from trees, rocks and other obstacles.
- Make sure there is no street traffic or frozen water anywhere near the bottom of the sledding hill — a sled may not always come to a stop exactly where you want it to.
- Check your child's sled to make sure it is in good condition with secure handholds and steering that works.
- Tell your child to never ride on a sled that is being pulled by a car or snowmobile.
- Remind your child to always sled while sitting up with his feet forward. Lying on a sled increases the chance of head injuries.
- Have your child wear a helmet while sledding.
Winter Sports Safety
- Children should wear helmets and eye protection while skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.
- Make sure your child's helmet is specifically designed for the activity he or she is participating in. Helmets should be well-fitted to prevent shifting or jostling of the helmet.
- Make sure children know to stay on marked trails while skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling.
- According to recommendations from the American Pediatric Association, children under 16 years old should never operate snowmobiles. Children younger than 5 should never ride on a snowmobile, even with an adult.
Children are more susceptible to frostbite than adults. Frostbite is when soft tissue, usually in fingers or toes, freezes. There are several stages of frostbite. If severe enough, frostbite can require amputation, but most often no permanent damage will occur if skin is warmed up carefully.
- soft or frozen doughy feeling to exposed skin
- tingling and burning of frostbitten area upon re-warming
- aching or throbbing pain upon re-warming
- redness, swelling upon re-warming
If a child complains of numbness or pain in her fingers, toes, nose, cheeks or ears while playing outdoors, check to see if his or her skin is blistered, hard to the touch, or glossy. If so:
- Have him or her come inside immediately.
- Have the child move the numb part of her body to increase blood supply.
- Do not rub the skin to warm it up, as this can cause tissue damage.
- Immerse the frozen skin in warm water. (Make sure the water is warm but never hot so the tissue isn't further damaged.
- Get medical help if the area stays numb after warming.
Children are more susceptible to hypothermia than adults. Hypothermia occurs when too much heat escapes from the body and body temperature drops lower than its normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. While severe hypothermia can cause internal organ damage or lead to death, it is generally not something to be concerned about unless a person is trapped outdoors or in cold water for an extended period of time without proper protection.
- muscle weakness
- lowered body temperature
- slow pulse.
If hypothermia has set in,
- Call 911 for help.
- Bring your child to a warm place.
- Wrap your child in blankets to retain body heat.
- Don't expose your child to any direct heat sources like hot water bottles, heating pads, radiators or fireplaces.