This may be controversial, but I think winter is the best time of year to be outside. There’s nothing quite like wandering through an open field of freshly fallen snow to make you marvel at how cool our world is. Couple this appreciation for nature with the thrill of skiing and the friendly competition of snowball fights, and you have the recipe for a perfect season.
I’m not the only one that loves winter—kids do too. When I taught first grade, my students would talk nonstop about how excited they were for the first snowfall. Between sledding, building snowmen, and making an army of snow angels, winter allows for a ton of fun (and beneficial) outdoor activities that kids love.
Going outside always comes with a little risk, though, and cold temperatures make things even more risky. As such, it’s important to keep some basic safety tips in mind when your kids are out enjoying the snow. Here are Troomi’s top ten safety tips for the winter season that are sure to make this winter your safest and most enjoyable season yet.
1. Layer Up!
Did you know that wearing multiple layers is the best way to keep warm during long days outside? It’s true! While your heavy winter coat is an important part of the equation, wearing extra layers beneath that coat ensures that you retain warmth and stay comfortable in the cold. If your kids are well-prepared, they may even get a little too toasty, so it’s helpful to have layers that they can take off and put back on as needed.
Younger kids need some extra warmth. When dressing your kiddos for winter, add one more layer than a full-grown adult would wear in similar conditions.
2. Wear the Proper Protective Gear
Many of my favorite memories are of whooshing down the slopes on my skis, stopping only for a cup of hot cocoa or to wait in the lift line. Some of my least favorite memories, however, involve tripping on the snow and running into trees. Thankfully, none of these mishaps led to injuries (except a little wounded pride), because I was always wearing the proper protective gear.
When sending your kids outside, make sure they’re properly equipped. This means strapping on shin guards for hockey and securing a well-fitting helmet on your little one’s head when skiing or snowboarding. It’s a good idea to give your kids a helmet when they’re sledding, too. Sleds can lose control pretty quickly, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
If I asked you to make a list of essential winter items, sunscreen might not readily come to mind—but it should. Sunlight reflects off snow, and that reflected light can burn your face just as much as a summer day spent tanning by the pool. Sunscreen protects against sunburns and skin cancer and gives your face a little extra hydration needed to prevent wind-chapped skin.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When you and your kids are having fun out in the snow, it’s easy to forget about drinking water. Winter sports are physically draining, however, and consistent hydration is an absolute necessity to help your body retain its strength and continue to support your outdoor needs. Always carry a reusable bottle of water with you, and help your kiddos avoid dehydration by reminding them to take an occasional sip of that sweet, sweet H2O.
5. Avoid Colds with Proper Hygiene
For many of us, wintertime means flu season. Thanks to a certain international pandemic, we’ve gotten pretty good at remembering to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. Keep these habits up, and remind your children how important it is to take care of their health.
If your child does feel sick and you fear it may be contagious, don’t send them to school! Keep them at home and watch their symptoms in case they get worse. It’s hard being stuck inside, but it’s easy to make your child’s sick day one to remember with these 35 screen-free indoor activities for kids.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Kiddos
Between frostbite and sledding-related injuries, winter can be a physically dangerous time of year. Help your kids avoid any injuries or illnesses by keeping a close eye on them as they play. As you watch them, remind them about safe play habits. Some injuries are unavoidable, however, and in case something bad does happen (knock on wood), keep a first aid kit with Band-Aids and hand warmers close by and at the ready.
7. Watch Out for Frostbite Symptoms
While you’re keeping an eye on your kiddos, don’t forget to check regularly for frostbite. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should look out for these symptoms of frostbite:
- Cold skin and a prickling feeling
- Skin that looks red, white, bluish-white, grayish-yellow, purplish, brown, or ashen
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
- Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
If you do see some of these symptoms, remove any wet clothing and protect the affected area from any more cold exposure. If the frostbite looks particularly bad, put away the first aid kit and seek professional medical attention.
8. Stay Inside on Super Cold Days
The Mayo Clinic warns us that the risk of frostbite increases when air temperature “falls below 5°F, even with low wind speeds.” The chance of frostbite occurring on exposed skin is even greater when the temperature drops down to 16.6°F below. When it’s this cold, it takes less than thirty minutes for frostbite to cling onto your extremities.
Avoid frostbite and windchill by keeping your kiddos inside on these ultra-chilly days. Make the most of your time inside by having a winter movie marathon, starting a new hobby with your kids, or getting creative in the kitchen.
9. Stay Away from Machinery
Kids are naturally curious. It’s important to encourage their curiosity and support their desire to learn new things, but when it comes to machines, remind them not to get too close. Teach them how winter machines like snow blowers and snow plows work, and educate them on the safety precautions they need to take around motorized vehicles.
10. Use the Buddy System
Exploring the outdoors is always more fun with a friend—and it’s safer too. Whether your kids are speeding down the sledding hill or sculpting the next great work of snow art, make sure that they’re never out alone. Having an extra pair of eyes around is necessary for safety, and exploring with a buddy keeps kids motivated and moving, strengthens relationships, and aids in the development of necessary social skills.
Make Your Winter Even Safer with Troomi
These ten tips are the perfect foundation for a fun and safe winter season. You can make your child’s winter even safer by switching their phone plan to Troomi! Smartphones from Troomi Wireless utilize strong security to protect your child’s personal information from hackers and scammers. These cool phones also feature a curated collection of KidSmart® Apps and games that encourage creativity and inspire kids to get outside and experience life away from screens.