10 Cold Weather Safety Tips for Kids

The season you either love — or love to hate — is in full swing. Whether you’re out and about with your family braving the elements, or getting cozy at home, don’t let cold-weather fun snowball into a safety hazard. Keep your kids protected with these tips.

1. Maintain a sunny disposition. The season’s frigid temps shouldn’t fool you — snow reflects more than 75% of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Don’t stow away the sunscreen during winter; use it to protect kids’ faces before they go out to play.

2. Keep snug like a bug — but not too snug. Winter wear should fit kids properly, but gear shouldn’t be so tight that it restricts movement. This is particularly true for footwear. Too-tight boots constrict blood flow, causing feet to become even colder. When sizing shoes, allow room for an extra pair of socks.

3. Be clever about clothing choices. When sending kids off to school or out to play, make sure they’re dressed warmly in layers that are wind- and waterproof. If possible, opt for wool instead of cotton. This durable and flexible material is an excellent insulator that will help keep kids dryer and warmer than cotton, which is quick to absorb water.

Help your little ones stay warm with adequate head, face, hands, and neck protection. You can save time while getting your brood out the door by storing gloves and scarves inside hats.

4. Get around safe and sound. Driving in winter can be dangerous, so you should make sure you’re ready for any situation. Prepare your car for such emergencies by keeping the following must-haves in your trunk: a first-aid kit, blankets, shovel, rock salt, ice scraper, water, and nonperishable snacks.

5. Practice safety when playing winter sports. Always supervise your child’s winter activities. Ice skating should only be done on ice that has passed proper inspection. Sledding paths shouldn’t be too crowded or too close to roadways. The safest sleds are those that allow for steering, so avoid snow tubes or disk-shaped sleds. If your little ones want to try skiing or snowboarding, consider getting lessons from an instructor. While out on the slopes, they should always wear helmets and gloves with built-in wrist guards, and be accompanied by an adult.

6. Serve superior snacks. Good nutrition can help kids fight off cold and flu season, so strengthen their immune system with a balanced diet. Snack time is a great opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrients; try dried and fresh fruits, sliced raw vegetables, whole-wheat crackers with cheese, and yogurt.

7. Keep them hydrated. Although your kids may not be sweating as much as they do in warm-weather months, they still need to keep hydrated. Smart choices for winter are low-sugar juices that are high in vitamin C, which studies show can lessen the severity and duration of winter colds. Decaffeinated tea and hot cocoa are also wise picks — these comforting hot drinks are a great source of antioxidants, which are believed to strengthen the immune system.

8. Make your home a safe haven. Be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions by stocking up on essentials, such as extra batteries for flashlights, bottled water, first aid staples, and nonperishable food items. Safety kits can help protect your family in extreme situations.

9. Get your kids prepared. Make sure your kids have an extra pair of gloves and tissue packs tucked into their book bags. These necessities will help prevent the spread of germs, and come in handy if a glove goes missing.

10. Heat your home safely. Before temperatures fall below freezing, make sure your home’s heating equipment and your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors function properly. If you own a space heater, keep it away from small children or, better yet, don’t use one at all. And don’t forget to discuss fire safety with your family each winter; the likelihood of indoor fires increases during the colder months, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The American Academy of Pediatrics
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