Winter Play Safety Tips for Children
Snow is one of nature’s greatest toys for all ages. You can mold it, build with it, slide on it, throw it, and so much more. No matter how old you are, it is important to be safe when playing outside in the fresh powder. These six simple guidelines can help everyone make the most of their time in a winter wonderland.
- Refrain from Eating Snow- Even if you start to get thirsty, it is never a good idea to pick up snow and eat it. There are several reasons for this. Contrary to what most people think, some forms of snow can dehydrate the body. To melt the snow our bodies have to heat it up. This takes heat away from keeping us warm and lowers the body temperature. Snow in urban or suburban areas can be dirty and make us sick. The only time someone would ever need to eat snow would be if they were out in the wilderness. Then they would have to put it into a water bottle and put it against their body to melt it before drinking it.
- Be Aware of When You Start to Sweat- Between the heavy clothing and running around in the snow, our bodies start to sweat. This is the body cooling itself down. It sounds easy enough just to take off our winter coats to cool off, but it can do more harm than good. When we sweat, our pores open up and make our skin susceptible to cold. This is why it is best to dress in layers when playing outside in the cold. Shedding layers helps to cool us down without letting too much cold get in. If you start to sweat too much, it’s time to go back inside and rest.
- Protect Your Hands and Feet- It’s fun to make a snowman or lay down and make a snow angel, but long exposure to snow can hurt human skin and cause frostbite. Frostbite is when the skin cells freeze and die. It’s almost like a burn from cold. Wear gloves when you need to touch the snow and never go outside barefoot. It looks easy in Christmas movies, but it can cause a lot of harm.
- Keep Your Head Covered– A lot of heat escapes from our heads in the cold weather, making our body temperature go down much faster. Our mouth, nose, and eyes are wet and are more susceptible to the cold. Wear a hat or a hood when going out to play in the snow to keep your head from getting sick. Your ears will thank you too.
- Stay Active- Moving around keeps the blood pumping and warms up the body naturally. Don’t just sit and watch everyone else have fun. Build a snowman, go sledding, or make a snow fort. If you start to feel tired, go inside and rest for a few hours and then go out again. Snow is for playing in for short bursts and then going inside to warm up.
- Go Out With a Friend or Parent– Playing in snow can easily dehydrate and tire someone out so going out alone is never a good idea. Sledding and ice skating are lots of fun but they can be dangerous. Every year they cause unexpected injuries for even the most experienced at winter sports. If you are in the woods or not in view of a house, you should have an adult with you. If you are in a well populated area with other people, a friend will do fine.