thread News

Winter Safety Tips

January 17, 2019

Alaska, Child Welfare,

 

Don’t hibernate this winter! Get outside and enjoy Alaska’s winter playground.

We know what you’re thinking—it’s too cold and dark!

But with a little planning your entire family can stay active and safely enjoy time together outside sledding, building a snowman, or going on a walk.

These tips will help your family to stay safe while having fun this winter:

  • Protect your child’s developing brain by always wearing a helmet for winter sports like sledding, ice skating, or skiing. For a proper fit, the helmet should be snug and sit on your child’s head just above the eyebrows. Do not purchase a helmet with “room to grow.” A helmet that is too large is not safe. Tighten the chin strap so you can only fit one or two fingers below the chin.

  • Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Children are at greater risk than adults for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops dangerously low. Watch for shivering, one of the first signs you may notice when hypothermia sets in. Bring your child inside to a warm area and remove wet clothing immediately.

    Frostbite happens when the skin freezes, causing permanent damage, and occurs mainly on fingers, toes, ears, noses, and cheeks. Skin that is red and numb is an early warning sign of frostbite. If this happens, bring your child inside, remove any wet clothing, and use warm (but not hot) water to slowly warm up chilled body parts. If you notice skin that has become very cold and turns white or yellowish gray, immediately take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room for frostbite treatment.

  • Dress your child in layers. As a general rule, babies and young children need one more layer than an adult to feel comfortable in cold weather. Avoid cotton fabrics, which do not retain heat when wet. Instead, stick with wool or synthetic fabrics. Help your children stay warm and dry with waterproof snow pants or snowsuit, a warm jacket, socks, hat, and waterproof gloves and boots. 

  • Make sure you can be seen. Bring a flashlight or headlamp when going out after dark. If your gear is not already reflective, consider purchasing high visibility reflective tape to attach to your clothing.

  • Have a snack before going out. The extra calories will help your child stay warm. Remember to bring along water to keep your family hydrated. Warm tea, hot chocolate, or even apple cider in a thermos is also a special treat that can help your children stay warm.

Spring is on its way! But until then, thread encourages your family to enjoy our Alaskan winters by planning safe and warm activities for the entire family. For more information on winter play, check out these tips from the Institute of Child Nutrition.