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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

9 Tips for Safe Play with Ice, Snow and Cold

Photo by Joe Green (Flickr)

My girls and I love outdoor winter activities! Playing outside in the ice, snow, and cold is fun, and the Vitamin D exposure helps to relieve depression. Plus, the exercise is important for kids, as it fights obesity and reduces ADHD symptoms. While fun and beneficial, outdoor winter play includes several hazards. Here are a few tips we can use to help our kids play safe.

Dress in Layers

The right combination of layered clothing keeps our kids dry and warm. When my girls play outdoors in cold weather, they always wear a snug polyester shirt followed by two looser middle layers and a windproof and waterproof outer layer.

Prioritize Socks and Shoes

Dry feet are essential for warmth and frostbite prevention. My girls first put on thin, polyester socks followed by thick wool socks. Then, they wear waterproof insulated boots that aren't too snug and will protect their feet and toes.

Opt for a Hat and Mittens

Insulated and waterproof mittens and hats are essential winter gear. The mittens protect my girls' hands and fingers from frostbite and give them the mobility they need to scoop snowballs, handle a shovel, and have fun outdoors all winter. Hats reduce heat loss. My girls also pack extra gloves and hats to change into if these essentials get wet.

Wear Reflective and Bright Clothing

Because I want my kids to be visible as they play in the snow, I dress them in bright clothing. Their jackets and shoes also feature several strips of reflective tape. My girls also know that staying safe includes coming indoors before dark.

Lather on Sunscreen

We often associate sunscreen with summer weather, but I don't pack it away with the bathing suits. Snow reflects UV rays, and our kids can still get a winter sunburn. That's why I slather sunscreen on my girls' exposed skin before they head outside to play.

Check Sports Equipment

As we pull out our winter sports equipment from storage, we give it a checkup. I make sure that the boots, goggles, helmets, and ice skates or skis still fit and that all of the parts are in good working order. If I'm not sure the equipment is safe, I take it to a local winter sporting goods store and let a professional verify that it's stable, safe, and ready for use.

Choose a Safe Sledding Spot

Sledding accidents can cause concussions, broken bones, and other injuries. I always inspect hills before my girls sled and make sure the area is located away from busy roads and free of obstacles like trees, posts, holes, and rocks. My girls also try to avoid peak sledding times to reduce collisions, only ride solo on the sled, and stay aware of their surroundings.

Stay Hydrated

Our kids must stay hydrated as they play outside in cold weather. They may not feel thirsty, but their bodies lose water as they sweat and breathe. I give my girls room-temperature water and warm tea or cocoa throughout the day to prevent dehydration as they play.

Enforce the Buddy System

While my girls do implement safety protocols as they play outside in the ice, snow, and cold, I assign them a buddy for extra security. Buddies remind their friends to stay safe and can alert an adult after an accident.

Playing outside during the winter is fun and offers numerous health and wellness benefits. These nine tips can keep our kids stay safe as they play in the ice, snow, and cold. What other safety tips do you recommend as your kids play outdoors in the winter?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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