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Parenting & Motherhood Tips

Tips To Kids Stay Safe Outdoors During the Winter

Playing outside in the winter is a fun way to stimulate children and get a little bit of exercise in the bargain. Of course, there’s plenty for a parent to worry about. Low temperatures, the potential for injury. You may not need to worry about lyme disease or ocean safety, but there are plenty of other factors to keep in mind. In this article, we take a sweeping look at all the precautions you can take to keep you and your family’s kids stay safe outdoors this winter.

Layers

Depending on where you live, the winter cold can pose more than just the risk of discomfort. Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict. The blood itself thickens, even if ever so mildly, which can make it hard to breathe or regulate your heart rate.

In adults, these conditions can often lay the groundwork for a heart attack. That’s why so many people have cardiac events while they are shoveling their driveways.

Most children won’t need to worry about that, but if yours have pre-existing conditions like asthma, or something relating to their heart, the winter cold could be dangerous for them.

And of course, even healthy children need to worry about frostbite. Frostbite can happen anywhere on their body so make sure they are completely wrapped up when they go outside. You’ll know you’ve done your layering right if it feels like half a department store’s worth of clothes are drying in your mudroom after a play day in the snow.

It’s also important to be strategic about how you dress them. Of course, you want everything covered, but you can maximize their warmth and comfort by focusing your heaviest efforts on several key areas.

Heat escapes quickly through your head, your chest, and your hands and feet. If you focus primarily on these spots, you’ll find that your bundling efforts are much more effective.

Sensible Ice Skating

Ice skating on a frozen lake or pond can be a magical experience. However, the risks are enormous when proper precautions aren’t taken. When the ice isn’t thick enough, it is very easy to fall through. When someone does fall through a frozen body of water, it is then very difficult to find their way out. The water is dark, and currents quickly sweep the victim away from where they went in.

It’s a terrible situation that results in drownings and hypothermia every year. Knowing this, many parents will opt to keep their children’s ice skating sessions indoors.

If you do want your kids to have the frozen lake experience, there are ways you can do it safely. First, make sure you are following your region’s ice thickness guidelines. In general, it is considered safe to go on a frozen lake when the ice is between four to five inches thick.

Even then, however, you should make sure your child goes with a group and skates with some form of personal flotation device.

Of course, you should also be sure to take all of the other precautions you would opt for in a skating situation. Ice is hard and impact can result in contusions and concussions. Opt for padding, and make sure your child wears a helmet. They may look a fool with their pads, helmet, and floatation device, but we’re prioritizing safety over good Instagram pictures here.

In this article, we take a sweeping look at all the precautions you can take to keep you and your family safe this winter.

Sunscreen?

It is possible to get sunburn in the winter. Some people get really snooty about this. You thought sunburn happened because of the temperature? Remind me to speak a little slower around you.

Here’s the deal: the position of the sun in winter doesn’t favor sunburns nearly as much as that of its position in winter. Stir in the almost constantly slate grey skies and safety improves.

However, on a sunny, snowy day, the conditions are just right for burns. UV rays reflect off the snow, amplify, and result in burns. If you and your child are going to spend a significant amount of time in the snow, sunscreen will keep you safe from burns.

To Sled or Not to Sled?

Sledding is a fundamental right of passage for children living in parts of the world that get snowfall. It’s also very dangerous. Children can and do experience serious injuries, and sometimes even death from more or less routine sledding activities.

What should a concerned parent do? Ban sledding entirely? Pull their disgruntled thirteen-year-old around the flat yard?

Fortunately, there are middle grounds. What you can do is work with your children to find sledding spots that are agreeably safe. Not too far away, not near trees, and not too steep.

Ideally, you will decide on these spots before the snow. It’s much easier to make a plan during times of peace than it is when you are dealing with an overly-stimulated child on a snow day.

It’s also best to monitor sledding activity or at least be sure that an adult you trust is there to do so. It does admittedly element some of the elements of adventure to have your parents hanging around your sledding spot, but it is important to have an adult on the scene in the case of injury.

Anyway, the time of The Goonies has long since passed. The unfortunate reality is that most children’s activities require careful supervision. Consider speaking with your child ahead of time about the boundaries that are appropriate to your supervised sledding adventures.

It is certainly still possible for them to have fun with their friends even with their parents around.

General Winter Precautions

Of course, you should also make sure that you follow general winter safety precautions that will impact everyone in your family. Make sure that you are prepared for snow-ins and power outages that can take place during ice storms.

This can include everything from making sure you have enough non-perishable food, to consider the merits of a backup generator. They are expensive, but in areas with high levels of winter precipitation, they can be a worthwhile investment.

Also, be mindful of when and where you drive. Not only do icy roads cause accidents, but they can leave people stranded in their vehicles. Monitor weather conditions carefully during the winter, and stock your car with blankets, snacks, and water in the event of unexpected conditions.

Remember, you aren’t just planning for an accident or road stoppage. Even a routine breakdown in extreme temperatures can result in dangerous cold exposure.

So much of winter safety is about planning ahead. Be mindful, and it will be easy to keep you and your family safe.

This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase through one of my links. Please see my disclosure for more information.

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TWL Working Mom

Jennifer is the Owner of TWL and Co-Owner of a Influencer Facebook Group Influential Mamas.  Along with blogging + freelance writing and selling Zyia Activewear, she is a mom, army wife and full-time teacher. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.

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