In the winter months, it’s tempting to send your children outside without any preparation. You might want them to go outside and play so they won’t feel like they’re missing out on all the fun while you bundle up and head out into the cold yourself.
But in reality, there are a few things you can do to protect your family from the elements while also ensuring that your kids stay safe and healthy all winter long.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind during the cold months ahead.
Winter Health and Hygiene Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe:
Teaching children about weather safety
Weather safety is extremely important for children of all ages. While young children are fascinated by snow, they also have a tendency to play outside without proper clothing or protection from potentially hazardous weather conditions.
Teach your child basic tips, such as when it’s cold outside, wear layers, and emphasize that they should never go out into dangerous conditions alone. Be sure to remind them of these tips every winter before it snows, just as you would with other practical advice like using a seatbelt or not running with scissors.
No matter how many times you say it, though, stay up-to-date on severe weather warnings—children are often more affected by news reports than adults because their imagination makes things seem scarier than they actually are. And if a warning is issued during school hours?
Stay home if it’s really cold
It’s tempting to bundle up your kids and send them out into frigid temperatures, but that may not be a great idea. Their little bodies don’t retain heat very well, especially compared with an adult’s.
When it gets below 20 degrees, they can start having issues with hypothermia—and even die if they stay outside too long.
If you don’t think they can stay warm enough at home or in their cars (which is not recommended), try making a deal with them: agree that as soon as their skin feels cold or becomes discolored (blues, purples, reds) from a drop in body temperature, you all come inside for hot chocolate!
Take extra care when you go outside in extreme cold
Dress your kids in clothing that will keep them warm. Layer their clothing with multiple tops, hats, scarves, and gloves so they can take things off if they get too hot. It’s also a good idea to invest in winter boots that go above the ankle.
The last thing you want is for your child to suffer from frostbite while trying to play in a park or throw snowballs on a day when it feels like it’s below zero outside.
Dress warmly, covering head, hands, feet
In cold weather, your body loses heat from its extremities. The fingers, toes, ears, and nose are particularly susceptible to frostbite—especially if you’re outside for long periods of time without proper clothing. So make sure everyone is wearing a hat or earmuffs (if it’s below freezing) when venturing outdoors.
Frostbite can occur in as little as ten minutes with unprotected skin. Don’t forget hand warmers or waterproof gloves on those winter walks!
To protect your feet, buy insoles that can be warmed up; during cold snaps keep some rubber kitchen gloves by your door so you don’t have to run back inside every time you step out.
Know how to walk on ice safely
If you get into a car accident, take these first steps to protect yourself. No matter how minor your injuries may seem, it’s important not to move until an EMT has evaluated you. If you have pain or suspect an injury, ask for a full-body evaluation by EMS.
If possible, try not to move until they arrive on the scene. If you can’t stay put safely due to vehicle damage or other circumstances beyond your control, get out of your car as carefully as possible and seek immediate medical care at an emergency room.
And while it’s tempting to want that reassurance of picking up your phone or calling 911 from inside your car—don’t do it!
Stay safe in a car accident
If you are ever involved in a car accident, do not be afraid. There is no reason to panic. There is an added danger of fire, explosion, or chemical leak if you try to leave your vehicle immediately after an accident.
In fact, it’s always best to stay inside your vehicle until first responders arrive. Stay calm, put on your seatbelt again if you have gotten out of it during impact and try not to move around too much as your injuries may be worse than they appear at first.
Cold weather can make you sick too
Colds, flu, upper respiratory infections—they’re just as common for people who are outside during cold weather as they are for anyone else.
Don’t let your kids go out unprotected: Make sure they wear hats, mittens, scarves, and thick coats when they go out into cold temperatures. If you live where it snows, make sure you keep them bundled up from head to toe whenever they go outside.
This may seem like overkill but it could save their lives if someone slips on a patch of ice or a pile of snowfall from a roof (and those kinds of things do happen!). They should also always wear boots that come up over their ankles so no snow can get in there either.
Use alcohol responsibly during holidays
When it comes to celebrating special occasions with alcohol, like New Year’s Eve or Thanksgiving, it can be tricky to keep track of your drinking habits.
After all, it’s easy for people to lose track of how much they’ve had when they’re enjoying a few glasses of wine at dinner parties or dining out with family. When you mix alcohol with busy holiday schedules, you might also find yourself pressured into consuming more than you had originally planned.
If you want your celebrations with alcohol to stay safe and healthy, consider planning ahead—make sure you know how much is too much for yourself (and for those around you) before you even begin. For example, some people consider one drink per hour as safe; others may use something else entirely.
Keep them hydrated
It’s easy for children (and even adults) to get dehydrated from all of that cold weather running around. It’s a good idea to keep them hydrated.
A hot chocolate drink or warm tea can help, too. It’s also important for young children who aren’t yet potty trained to have lots of bathroom breaks, and it helps if they wear light clothing that is easy to take off if they are overheated or damp with sweat. Keeping them dry will help keep them warm, too!
Ensure they Shower Daily
You can’t control your kids’ activity outside of school, but you can make sure they’re clean when they come home. It will take some time to get them into a showering routine, so don’t be too hard on yourself or your children if they resist at first.
Instead, try setting a timer every day for five minutes, during which everyone is expected to be cleaning themselves or getting ready for bed. The idea is that by giving them something structured to do — with consequences — they won’t fight it as much.
Eventually, you won’t need a timer; your kids will just know that showering happens before doing anything else (except homework).