Guest Author - Rebecca Spooner
The first snowfall often brings squeals of joy and peals of wonder... winter is finally here! Children love to play in the snow, go sledding, build snowmen, and participate in winter sports such as skating, snowboarding and skiing. The question is, how do you enjoy these activities and still make sure you are taking precautions to keep your child safe? There are a number of things to watch for and think about before sending your kids outside this season.
1. Take a look at the weather network (http://www.theweathernetwork.com). Find out the days weather and the wind chill factor, which is essential in protecting your kids from hypothermia. If it is too cold to send the kids out at recess, it is most likely too cold to send them out for an afternoon romp in the snow.
2. When dressing your children, beware of scarfs as they are a strangling hazard. Instead, opt for neck tubes of turtlenecks to keep your children's necks warm. It is best to dress your kids in layers to ensure they are warm enough, and make sure that their snowsuits, gloves, and boots are good in cold weather conditions.
3. Skating can be a wonderful occasion for fun and exercise, however think twice before sending your kids to the local pond or lake to test out their new skills. Before allowing them to skate on a lake or river, make sure that the ice is smooth and at least 10 cm or 4 inches thick. Never allow your children to skate near open water and teach them what to do if someone were to fall in the ice.
4. Most health experts strongly recommend a helmet, even while tobogganing. Each year, the ER is filled with kids who are launched off their sleds and land on a tree or a rock. When taking your kids to the local hill, make sure that they are well protected and that the area is deep snow and free of rocks, trees, and other various obstacles. Teach them how to go down the middle of the hill and move out of the way quickly.
5. Skiing and snowboarding are definitely on the top of the list for injuries, and most of them are avoidable. When heading up to the mountain, make sure that your child is dressed properly, that all their equipment is up to date and fits well, that they are wearing a helmet, and that they are wearing sunglasses or goggles. This not only protects their eyes from snow, ice, cold, and debris, but also from the sun. If all else fails, enrol your child in a class... sometimes hearing those tips from someone else and seeing other kids do the same thing can make all the difference.
6. Lastly, beware of leaving your children in the car EVER. Even just for a few minutes. Depending on the tempurature, it only takes 5 minutes for hypothermia to develop. Always bring your kids in to the store or to get the mail with you.
As I write these winter tips, my lilac bush outside is budding. No doubt about it, winter is on its last legs. So take your kids up on their desperate pleas, take them outside to enjoy the snow while it still lasts, just remember to keep them safe in the process! Happy Winter!
BC Childrens Hospital Winter Safety
Cold,Ice, and Snow Safety