Winter can be a magical and exciting time for children and families. Each season brings with it new experiences and specific safety concerns. Below are several safety tips that can be used over the winter months.
During the winter families tend to spend more time indoors. It is imperative that families continue to practice good hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of illnesses. Also, given the much cooler temperatures fire safety is important. Winter can be a good time to develop a fire safety plan with your family. If your family uses a fireplace, you should check to ensure the screen is firmly attached and not leave young children unattended near fires. Each family should ensure their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functional. Space heaters should be used with caution. Children should not be unattended near space heaters. Additionally, flammable materials and products should be kept away from space heaters and power should be discontinued when you leave the room and are sleeping.
Outdoor play is important for children, even in winter months. Children can be affected by hypothermia more easily than adults as they have more difficulty regulating their body temperatures. Therefore, it is important to layer clothing to ensure children are warm. Also, you should frequently check in with your child when they are playing outside to ensure they are not too cold. If clothing becomes wet it should be removed immediately. In the winter, the sun can be just as damaging as it reflects off snow and ice. It is important to routinely apply sunscreen to children when they are outdoors, even in the winter. Sunscreen should be applied fifteen to thirty minutes prior to going outside and reapplied every two hours.
Playing outdoors in snow can be very exciting for children. As exciting as this may be, children need to be reminded of snow safety. Children should be instructed to avoid playing in snow banks and stay away from snowplows and snow blowers. Additionally, constructing snow “forts” or tunnels should be greatly discouraged as these can collapse on children. Children should always be supervised when sledding. The area where they sled should be monitored by an adult to ensure it is not near a busy road, covered with trees, or near a body of water than could be frozen. Helmets should always be used when children are sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Lastly, you should be cautious of dressing your child in clothing with drawstrings and long scarves as these can increase the risk of strangulation.
Lastly, during the cold winter months parents need to be aware of car seat safety. Babies and young children should not be bundled in heavy clothing when placed in car seats and booster seats. Excess layers of clothing and bulky jackets can compromise the effectiveness of the car sear as it can create too much space between the child and harness. It is recommended that your child be dressed in regular clothing when in car seats, secured in the harness, and then place a blanket or jacket over the child to keep them warm.
We hope these tips are helpful to you and your family. Best wishes for a safe and healthy winter season.
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