Winter is not a time to stay indoors and wait for spring to arrive – it is a great time to get outside and have some fun. However, winter activities can bring some hazards and safety concerns, too. Here are some tips on how to keep your winter snow play fun AND safe.
Select the Right Hill for Sledding:
Sledding is an old time favorite that even adults like to do. It seems like a harmless sport to do, however accidents happen and children and adults end up with minor injuries and in the worst cases, in the emergency room. Some tips to think about before hitting the snow and hills:
·Select a hill that is not too steep and has a flat area at the bottom. This will allow you to glide down the hill and come to a slow stop.
·Do not slide down hills that lead into a parking lot or a main street. Even though this may seem like a great sledding hill this could be dangerous.
·Don’t just pick a random hill; it may have holes, big rocks or trees that could cause some injuries. Look at local sledding areas that are free of debris. Check hills before the snow falls in order to find the perfect one.
·Make sure that the hill is not all ice and has mostly snow. Icy hills makes it very hard to stop and can cause serious injury.
Sledding Safety Tips:
·An adult should always be present to supervise and available to help in case of an injury
·Children under five years old should go on a sled with an adult. If your child is under 12 they should be watched. It is very easy to flip and go off course on a sled very quickly.
·Of course it is fun to all go down the hill at the same time (can you say “race!”), but this can cause injuries. The sleds may run into each other, ride over each other, or collide. Try to make sure children go down one at a time if possible.
·It’s important to keep arms and legs in the sled to avoid broken legs or arms. It only takes a second for a leg or arm to get caught going down a hill and not able to pull it back in.
·Major injuries from sledding are not frequent, but to avoid them, take a few precautions and educate your child about safety rules and your day out sledding will be a blast!
Other Tips for Outdoor Fun
When heading out to go sledding or a winter sport, remember to:
·Pack a light snack if you will be gone a long time. Children get hungry and you might not be close to where you can purchase food.
·Wear sunscreen – it’s not only for summer. If the sun is shining and the wind is whipping you can get sunburned. Putting some sun screen on your face and your child’s face helps to avoid this.
·Pack hand and feet warmers.
-Layer clothing – if one layer gets wet you can take it off. Try to avoid cotton clothes, they do not keep you as warm as other materials.
-Wear turtle necks, thermal underwear, and snow pants if possible.
-Select boots that are insulated and water proof
-Don’t forget an extra set of gloves for when your first pair gets wet.
·There is not a specific time for how long children should stay outside but when they get cold it’s time to go in.
·Hypothermia sets in when children are exposed to extreme cold weather, when clothes are wet, and the body starts to get cold. Knowing the signs of hypothermia can be very important. If your child is shivering or becomes clumsy or his/her speech is slurred, immediately take off wet clothes and put on warm ones and blankets. If your child does not seem to get better quickly, call 911 or a doctor immediately.
Other Winter Sports and Activities to Try
Try ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, or ski mobiling! Make sure that it is safe, you are dressed for the weather and it is an approved area to do the sport and you and your family will have a great time.
Tracy Martin-Turgeon has been in the field of early childhood education for 22 years. She started with The Children's Workshop in September 1999 as an assistant director for and has since served as director, regional, and currently as a VP regional overseeing seven facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI. on Fox Providence’s morning television show, The Rhode Show. In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.