Courtesy of The Institute for Childhood Preparedness
Winter Safety Tips for Parents and Children
Winter is a great time of the year for holiday celebrations, building snowmen, and staying warm by the fire. But winter can also bring freezing temperatures, icy roadways, and indoor fire hazards. Before sending children to play out in the snow, make sure everyone is bundled and warm!
Keep children and loved ones safe this winter by following these safety tips:
Stay Safe Outdoors
Many children look forward to playing outside in the snow. But, parents need to keep caution and safety in mind, and they should check on children regularly to ensure that they are warm and comfortable. Outside dangers include frigid wind chills, sledding accidents, low visibility, and winter sports injuries.
- Dress Children in Layers: Make sure to cover a child’s head, neck, hands, and feet. Babies and young children cannot regulate their body temperature, so dress young children in an extra layer of clothing.
- Never dress young children in scarves or clothing with drawstrings, as these items can cause accidental strangulation.
- Learn the warning signs of hypothermia, which is abnormally low body temperature: Confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness, and stiff muscles.
- Designate safe areas for children to play in the snow and make sure they stay close to home. Never let kids play or go sledding in the street, even if there are no cars on the road.
- Make sure older children play outside in groups. Young children under 12 should never play outside without an adult present.
- Teach children about the dangers of cold weather, and make sure they know the warning signs for hypothermia and frostbite.
- Make sure children wear shoes with grippers on the bottom to avoid falls and injuries on ice and snow, especially if they’re playing winter sports.
Stay Safe Indoors
Before the start of winter, make sure to have your heating system/furnace inspected and in good working order. If you’re planning to use a space heater or radiator, be sure to place a baby gate around the unit and never let children play alone in a room with an external heater. The CDC says to “use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Make sure to keep them away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets.” And if the power goes out, “Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles. Candles can lead to house fires.”
- Make sure all fireplaces have protective screens with no sharp edges. Teach children never to touch hot surfaces.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors before the start of every season, especially if you plan to use external heat sources, such as kerosene heaters.
- Make sure children stay hydrated with plenty of water and warm liquids. Make sure hot soup and beverages have time to cool down before serving to children.
- Make sure young children stay inside and away from heavy and dangerous snow shovels, snowplows, and snowblowers.
- Teach children the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of germs and the flu virus.
- If the power goes out, make sure to have plenty of toys, games, books, batteries, snacks, and blankets to keep children entertained and warm.
Stay Safe While Traveling
Before heading out, make sure to check your local weather forecast for dangerous road conditions. AAA says to “Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.” And to “make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread, and to keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.”
- Never strap young children into a car seat wearing a winter coat, as it lessens the effectiveness of the car seat. Instead, wrap a warm blanket around children after safely strapping them in.
- Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you become stranded in the snow. Kits should include warm blankets, flashlights, snacks, water, gloves, boots, a solar-powered cell phone battery, a first-aid kit, a small shovel, gravel/sand, and extra floor mats.
- Plan your emergency driving route. Know which roads will be off-limits during a storm, and choose safer roadways. Have a backup route to pick up your child at their child care program.
Safety for Child Care Programs
Child care providers should have open communication with parents if there is a winter weather warning in the area. Programs should also stock up on water, food, diapers, blankets, and medicine to ensure the safety of children and staff for at least 72 hours.
- Make sure your child care program has shelter-in-place protocols for inclement weather, as well as an updated parent handbook. Also, make sure to update your communication card so your child care program can get in touch with you during a weather emergency.
- Make sure your child care program outlines procedures for delayed openings, closings, and early dismissals.
The Institute for Childhood Preparedness has decades of experience in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. Prepare your child care program for a winter weather emergency by scheduling training with us today: https://www.childhoodpreparedness.org/training.