Winter safety for kids -- don't turn into a "kidscicle"

by Missy Jaramillo

Be safe in the wintertime

Winter safetyIn the wintertime, we have plenty of healthy outdoor activities to choose from and participate in.

From snow angels and to sledding, snowboarding and hockey, you'll find something to interest every member of your family.

But what about safety during this time of year? Following a few basic precautions will keep kids and parents enjoying those outdoor activities all winter long!

Bundle up

No matter which winter activity you choose, the right clothing and equipment will help you keep warm.

• Dress your child in layers
• Wear a hat
• Keep ears covered to prevent frostbite
• Wear mittens instead of gloves so fingers can bunch together for warmth
• Wear warm, waterproof boots that are big enough for wiggle room and an extra pair of socks
• Remove drawstrings that can catch on play equipment and use Velcro or snaps instead

Tip: Long scarves and hats can get tangled. Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf and mitten clips instead of a strings to prevent choking.

Signs of hypothermia: Your child may shiver, be distracted, irritable, or begin to hyperventilate as body temperatures decline.

If you suspect hypothermia, call your doctor. Meanwhile, take your child indoors to rest and warm up. Remove any wet clothing and wrap up in blankets or warm clothes.

Fun in the winter sun

It's cold out there. How can you get a sunburn? The sun's rays can still cause damage skin in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow and ice. Cover your child's exposed skin with kid-safe sunscreen and put on lip balm that contains sunscreen, even when it's cloudy outside.

Winter play

Choose play areas away from roads, fences and water. Snowplows and snow blowers can toss ice hunks, so remind your child to keep away from them.

Cross roads carefully. Drivers may have a hard time seeing kids if they have foggy or icy windows. Add reflective strips outer gear. It gets dark early and they'll help drivers spot your child.

Sled carefully. Nothing says winter quite like a pile of snow, a child all bundled up, and a sled. Unfortunately, the Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that about 46,000 sledding injuries are seen in emergency rooms each year.

Choose a safe location away from roads and open water and free of obstacles such as trees and rocks. Look at your child and then the hill. Is it too steep or large? Stay safe with these few rules:

• Wear a helmet and bright colored outer wear
• Sled kneeling or sitting up; laying down makes a child more prone to head injuries
• Teach how to roll to the side to get out of the way when the sled crashes
• Slide in the middle of the hill and walk up the edges
• Never pull a sled with a car or a snowmobile

Keep metal objects out of your mouth in very cold weather. Lips and tongues can freeze to the metal. Should it happen, encourage your child to keep calm and pour warm water around their tongue, as close to the frozen object as possible, warming it up and loosening the tongue.

Take a break

Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play. Kids can get so involved in their play that they don't realize they're cold, thirsty or wet. Call younger children inside for regular breaks and a warm drink.

Equipment check and safety gear

Check that equipment fits properly and works like it should and doesn't have jagged edges. Use appropriate safety equipment, like goggles when snowboarding. Helmets are a must for ice hockey, along with mouth guards, knee pads and elbow, shoulder and shin protection.

Do you live in a climate with lots of snow? What is your family's favorite outdoor activity during the winter season?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.