Winter weather has arrived early in many parts of the country. Snow, freezing rain, and cold wind represent hazards to children, who have a harder time regulating their body temperature than adults. Keeping kids safe during cold weather is about more than just wearing a hat when you they go out.
Mittens are warmer than gloves! Keeping the fingers together in one pocket of insulation is actually better. The knit or woven fabric traps warm air inside, and the fingers can essentially huddle together and share their heat.
We tend to think of sunscreen as a summertime safety precaution. However, you can still get sunburned in the winter. Wear a light sunscreen as a daily habit. Even though there are fewer total hours of sun during the cold months, the glare off of snow and ice can be very strong. Wearing sunglasses in snowy areas can help.
Winter is a dry season, especially when we spend most of it inside with the heat on. It’s important to get extra liquids, with a priority on plain water. Remember that hydration can also come from hot soups! A humidifier can help prevent dry air from causing chapped lips or even nosebleeds.
Instead of a single bulky coat that limits mobility, multiple thin layers are better for safety and warmth. Thinner layers give you more versatility for dealing with temperature changes throughout the day. They also make it easier to buckle into car seats. You should never try to secure a child wearing bulky clothing into a car seat as it can cause suffocation or prevent the harness from working correctly.
Most kids love to play in the snow. Unfortunately, they may not realize that it’s time to come inside before they become dangerous cold. Hypothermia occurs faster in children than adults, so keep an eye out for warning signs in kids even if you still feel fine. Those signs include shivering, becoming lethargic or confused, and slurred speech. Kids should not play outside alone.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace or wood stove, you know that there’s nothing quite like gathering around a crackling fire. Put up gates or screens to prevent kids from getting too close. If you’re using a portable heater or electric blanket, make sure that it’s on an automatic cutoff timer.
Winter is also cold and flu season–and as the pandemic continues, it’s more important than ever to practice good handwashing hygiene. In addition, make sure that kids know to cough into their elbow, not their hands. Everyone in your household should consider getting this year’s flu shot, too.