Whether you spend time indoors or out with your kids this winter, there are potential dangers unique to the season. Making yourself aware of these dangers and taking steps to avoid them reduces the chance of injury or illness to you and your kids. Climate differences mean not all dangers will apply to you so assess your own risk specific to your area when planning family winter safety.
In many areas, winter means temperatures at or below freezing. Bundling up the entire family reduces the risk of frostbite or other injuries due to the cold. Make sure each child has a warm winter coat that fits properly. A coat that goes down past the waist keeps your child even warmer. A coat with a removable hood gives more versatility. Add a warm pair of mittens or gloves, a hat that covers the ears and a scarf for everyday wear. For those days when the kids want to build snowmen or make snow angels, a pair of snow pants keeps their legs warm and dry.
Outdoor Winter Sports Safety
Snowy climates often mean sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and other winter sports. The fun of these activities comes to an end quickly if safety basics aren’t observed. Help your child choose a safe area to sled, ski or snowboard that is free of trees, rocks and other hazards. Stay away from hills near roads because it might be difficult to stop. Make sure your child sits on the sled properly and doesn’t try any tricks that are beyond his skill level. Only ice skate on ponds marked as safe for skating or stick with a maintained ice rink. Helmets during skiing and snowboarding help reduce serious injuries.
Winter also means an increase in cold, flu and other illnesses because of all the bonding time you spend indoors. A healthy diet and exercise for the entire family boosts the immune system, helping it fight off germs. Frequent hand washing helps reduce exposure to germs. Teach your kids to keep their hands away from their faces and to sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbows. Disinfecting toys regularly also helps prevent the spread of germs.
Winter Travel Safety
Winter driving in colder climates becomes dangerous, especially if snow or ice gets on the roadways. A winter travel kit in the car is important. Keep blankets, hats, mittens and other warm items in the car in case you get into an accident or slide of of the roadway and don’t get help right away. Food is also a good idea to have on hand. Kitty litter or sand and a shovel might help you get out if you are stuck in snow or ice. Other items to include in the kit are jumper cables, flares, a flashlight and an ice scraper. Keep your car tuned up to lower the risk of breaking down in the winter.
When walking, watch for ice patches on the sidewalks. Wear clothing that is bright or reflective, especially if it is dark or snowing. This helps drivers see you. When crossing a street, wait for cars to stop completely. Even if a driver sees you, she might hit a patch of ice or have difficulty stopping.