Winter Safety Tips

Father And Toddler Boy Having Fun With Snow On Winter Day

Saskatchewan winters can be a wonderful time for children to be active and experience creative outdoor play. To help keep children safe as they explore the wonders outdoors, consider the tips below.

1. Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures.

For more information on appropriate clothing, see ‘Hypothermia and Frostbite’.

2. Remove strings and cords from children’s clothing.

Strings or cords can become caught on playground equipment, in doors, on sleds, or on other objects and strangle a child.
  • Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf. If a scarf is used, tuck the ends into the child’s jacket.
  • Attach mittens to a child’s jacket wi
  • th clips on the end of the jacket sleeve rather than a long string.

3. Stay hydrated!

Drinking warm fluids helps the body maintain its temperature. Provide children with lots of water to help their bodies stay warm.

4. Provide children less than 8 years of age with constant supervision while they are outside.

Check on older children often; teach them to use ‘the buddy system’ and never to play alone.

5. Winter Activities

It is important to ensure safe equipment is used and safe practices are followed to keep children safe during winter activities such as tobogganing, skiing, snowboarding, and skating. Read below for safety tips specific to each winter activity.

References

  • Canadian Pediatric Society (2009) – Winter Safety: Advice for parents and kids. Caring for Kids

Helmet Use in Winter

In 2010 children between 10 and 17 years of age had the highest rate of helmet use while skiing and snowboarding in Canada.

  • 95% of 10 – 14 year olds*
  • 85% of 15 – 17 year olds*
At the same time, only 69% of 33 – 44 year old and 63% of 18 – 24 year old skiers and snowboarders wore a helmet in Canada.

Helmet use appears to be perceived as something that you can ‘grow out of’ from childhood to adulthood. Adults need to model appropriate behaviour so that as children grow, the habit of helmet use grows with them and is not just a ‘phase of childhood’. Older siblings, parents, caregivers, grandparents, and other family members and friends are all role models.

Are YOU being a role model?
References
  • Think First Canada’s Alpine Skiing & Snowboarding Injury Prevention Tips. (2011). Retrieved from: Think First Canada

Sledding and Tobagganing

Check that the hill:
  • Is free of hazards, such as rocks, trees, fences, or ice.
  • Is away from roads, rivers, or railroads.
  • Has plenty of room at the bottom of the hill to stop.

Use sleds or toboggans that can be steered and have brakes. Saucers, snow disks, and inner tubes provide very little control and are not recommended.

Inspect the toboggan to ensure it is in good condition and not cracked or broken. Teach children to check the toboggan so that as they get older they can be aware of hazards too.

Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures.

For more information on appropriate clothing, see ‘Hypothermia and Frostbite’.

Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf and remove strings and cords from children’s clothing. Scarves, strings, and cords can become caught on sleds or other objects and strangle a child. If a scarf is used, tuck the ends into the child’s jacket.

Winter sports, snow, kid sledding at winter time

A head or brain injury is serious and can occur while tobogganing. A ski/snowboard helmet is recommended for anyone who is tobogganing. Ski/snowboard helmets are designed for use in cold weather and for similar types of falls and speeds. A hockey helmet can also be used if a ski/snowboard helmet is not available.* A thin, warm hat that covers the earlobes should be worn under the helmet.

Provide supervision at all times for children as they toboggan. Young children should never toboggan alone.

The safest position to be in while tobogganing is kneeling. Have children kneel or sit on the toboggan. Sliding headfirst on the stomach or lying on the back increases the risk of injury to head, spine, or spinal cord.

Check that the ski /snowboard helmets meet CSA, ASTM, Snell, or CEN standards (CSA Z263.1-2008, ASTM F2040, CEN 1077, Snell RS-98 or S-98). Hockey helmets should meet CSA standards.

References

Skating

Skates should be comfortable and have appropriate ankle support to help prevent twists, sprains, and breaks.

Skate blades should be sharp. Check the blades for rust or dullness.

Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures. For more information on appropriate clothing, see ‘Hypothermia and Frostbite’.

Hockey helmets are tested specifically for falls on ice and are recommended for all skaters.*Hockey helmets should be replaced every five years.

Teach children to skate on ice that has been checked by an adult.

Adults should check the thickness of ice before going out on frozen ponds, sloughs, or lakes.

Ice should be:
  • 15 cm (6 inches) for walking or skating.
  • 20 cm (8 inches) for skating parties or games.

Teach children to stay away from ponds, sloughs, lakes, streams, and rivers once spring begins as quick thaws can weaken the ice surface.

Supervise children at all times when they are on the ice and teach children to never skate alone.

Pond Hockey
* Check that hockey helmets meet CSA standards

References

Skiing and Snowboarding

Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures. For more information on appropriate clothing, see ‘Hypothermia and Frostbite’.

Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf and remove strings and cords from children’s clothing. Scarves, strings, and cords can become caught on objects and strangle a child. If a scarf is used, tuck the ends into the child’s jacket.

A ski/snowboard helmet helps protect from a head or brain injury and is recommended for all skiers and snowboarders. * Ski/snowboard helmets are designed for use in cold weather and for the speed and falls that are common while skiing and snowboarding. * A thin, warm hat that covers the earlobes should be worn under the helmet.

skiing girl

The reflection of the sun off the snow can be damaging to eyes and exposed skin. All skiers and snowboarders should wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection and sunscreen to protect from sunburns.

Check ski and snowboard equipment each year to make sure it fits properly, is well maintained, and in good working condition.

Junior Snowboarder
Teach children:
  • The rules of the hill
  • The signs they might see on the hill
  • To stay on marked trails only and never travel out of bounds
  • To watch for other skiers and snowboarders as well as hazards such as rocks, trees, or patches of ice
  • To never ski or snowboard alone
  • To ski or snowboard at their skill level and not to go on runs or try moves/tricks that may be beyond their skill level

New and inexperienced skiers and snowboarders should take lessons from a certified instructor at the hill.

* Check that ski /snowboard helmets meet CSA, ASTM, Snell, or CEN standards (CSA Z263.1-2008, ASTM F2040, CEN 1077, Snell RS-98 or S-98). Note: In 2008, the Canadian Standards Association released a new standard for multi-impact ski and snowboard helmets. No manufacturer in Canada currently meets the new CSA standards.
References

Hypothermia

How to Prevent Hypothermia

Hypothermia can occur when a child’s body is exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time and body heat is lost faster than produced.

Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures. Children should wear:
  • Layers of clothing that can be easily put on and taken off.
  • A warm hat that covers their ears.
  • Warm mittens.
  • A neck warmer, balaclava, or scarf to cover the neck and face.*
  • An extra pair of warm socks and warm, waterproof boots.
If clothing becomes wet or damp, change child into warm and dry clothing as soon as possible.
Happy Child In Winter

If a child is wearing a scarf, tuck the ends of the scarf into the jacket to prevent the scarf from becoming tangled. Loose scarf ends that become caught on playground equipment, in doors, on sleds, or on other objects can cause strangulation.

The Warning Signs of Hypothermia:
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
Babies have different warning signs when they have hypothermia. These include:
  • Bright red and cold skin
  • Very low energy
What to Do If Your Child has Hypothermia:

Seek medical attention immediately. Move your child into a warm room. Give the child a warm beverage to help increase the body temperature. Keep the person dry and wrap the body, neck, and head in a warm blanket.

* Never give an alcoholic beverage to a person with hypothermia.
References

Frostbite

Frostbite occurs when a child’s skin freezes. Frostbite can occur if skin is not protected or covered in cold temperatures. The most common body parts to get frostbite are the cheeks, ears, nose, hands, and feet.

How to Prevent Frostbite:
  • Skin can freeze quickly in cold temperatures. Always check the temperature and wind chill factor before going outside.
  • If the temperature or the wind chill is reported as -27°C (-16°F), it is safest for children to stay indoors.
  • Have your child come inside often to warm up and take a break. Staying outside for long periods of time in cold temperatures can be dangerous.
  • Dress children in warm clothing when outdoors in cool and cold temperatures. Children should wear:
    • Layers of clothing that can be easily put on and taken off.
    • A warm hat that covers the ears.
    • Warm mittens.
    • A neck warmer, balaclava, or scarf to cover the neck and face.*
    • An extra pair of warm socks and warm, waterproof boots.

* If a child is wearing a scarf, tuck the ends of the scarf into the jacket to prevent the scarf from becoming tangled. Loose scarf ends that become caught on playground equipment, in doors, on sleds or on other objects can cause strangulation.

The Warning Signs of Frostbite:
  • The first signs of frostbite are:
    • Skin that appears red and swollen.
    • Skin that feels like it is stinging or burning.
  • If there is pain or redness on any area of skin, bring your child out of the cold and cover the area before going outside again.
  • If the skin does not become protected from the cold or is not warmed, the next signs are:
    • Skin that appears grey in colour.
    • Skin that feels like it is tingling.
  • If the skin continues to be exposed to the cold it freezes.
    • Skin will be shiny and white.
    • A child will have no feeling in the area.
What to Do If Your Child has Frostbite:
  • Remove any cold clothing that is covering the affected area.
  • Put your child in dry, warm clothing or cover with blankets.
  • Slowly warm up the area by gently covering it with your hand. You may use lukewarm (not hot) water to slowly warm affected body parts.
  • If your child’s hand is frostbitten, place it in her opposite armpit to warm.
  • Do not massage frostbitten skin.
  • Do not rub snow on frostbitten skin.
  • Do not use a hot bath, heating pad, heat lamp, or heat from a stove or fireplace to warm affected areas.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if your child’s skin is white, waxy, or feels numb.
References