Keeping kids safe in winter is all about what they wear. Both clothing
and protective gear can keep them safe from the hazards of extreme cold
and reduce the risk of injury when they are out having fun. "It's
important to dress children appropriately for the weather," according
to Amanda Webb Rubin, MD,
St. Luke's Pediatric Associates. "Kids should dress in layers, wearing one more layer than an adult
would wear for activities outside."
Car seats and snow suits
Infants and children small enough for
car seats need to be dressed for the car. "If children wear snow suits in the
car, they can get overheated," she says. "For infants, you can
carry them in a front carrier and cover them with a blanket, and your
body heat can keep them warm until you get inside." Many parents
aren't aware that snow suits can put your child at risk in their car
seat. "Snow suits should not be used in car seats, because they won't
allow the buckles to cinch tightly enough," says Dr. Webb. Don't
sacrifice safety for convenience. Take off the snowsuit in the car and
then buckle kids in. "That way, you can make sure the seat belts
in the car seat are buckled safely and securely," she says. If the
car is cold, you can cover children with a warm blanket. Keep the snow
suit in the car so you can dress children appropriately once you get to
If your house is cool at night, Dr. Webb recommends an infant sleepwear
bag, also known as a Sleep Sack®.* "
Blankets in the crib can contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)," says Dr. Webb. "The sleepwear is like a sleeping bag; it keeps
the baby's head exposed, but their body stays warm."
Use common sense when planning outdoor activities. For example, if you
like to hike with your children, be aware of trail safety and watch for
icy conditions. "If you're trying a new activity, like skiing
or skating, avoid crowds. Fewer people means less chance of collision,"
says Dr. Webb. "It's also important to avoid head injuries. Children
should wear helmets for sledding, and helmets and wrist guards for skating
and snowboarding. And no downhill sledding headfirst. Always slide feet
Helmets are also a good idea when
snowmobiling. "Any passenger over the age of six should wear a helmet," says
Dr. Webb. "Children under six should not ride on snowmobiles, and
only teens ages 16 and older should drive a snowmobile."
Preventing frostbite and hypothermia
Frostbite and hypothermia can occur in cold temperatures. "Protect
the extremities," says Dr. Webb. "Cover the nose, ears, hands
and feet." If children complain of feeling numb or their skin looks
pale or gray, they may have frostbite. "Put them in a warm, not hot,
bath," she advises. "If they have blisters or their skin doesn't
regain color after a few minutes, call your doctor."
Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering and sleepiness. "And if
children slur their words, say odd things or appear clumsy, get them into
a warm place and seek medical attention immediately," says Dr. Webb.
For more information, visit
Healthychildren.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It has a helpful
"Chillin' With Winter Safety" page that offers good information for parents who want to ensure their
children's safety during winter fun.
*Sleep Sack® is a registered trademark of Halo®.