Keep kids safe and warm in the bitter cold
Winter was one of my favorite seasons as a child.
It meant snow forts, snow men, snow balls and a plethora of other snow concoctions that, at times, kept me out in the cold a lot longer than I should have been. I love watching my three boys enjoy the snow as much as I did, but, as a parent and child injury lawyer, I’m very conscientious of cold weather safety for my children and yours.
Here are few tips to keep in mind this winter.
How cold is too cold? When do you have to keep the kids in inside?
Children are tougher than you think, and even though for us adults it may feel absolutely freezing outside, the kids can have a blast regardless. Typically, as long as the wind chill isn’t too low – a common occurrence here in Chicago – your children are safe outside at any temperature higher than 30 degrees. Just be sure they are bundled up properly. See a complete temperature safe zone break down on CNN.com.
What should your child wear outside?
Start with good shoes. I love these Bog boots for my boys. They have excellent tread, and no laces or even Velcro, so they can just pull them right on over their snow pants. Also teach them proper snow walking. For example, walk sideways down steep hills and no running where there could be a layer of ice underneath.
Layers are also a parent’s best friend. As tough as it is to get them in all of them, layer the kids up so they can peel them off as needed. Don’t go overboard and dress your children to the point they can barely move their arms and legs like Randy in A Christmas Story. Just make sure your child’s outer layers are made from waterproof material that will prevent moisture from soaking through to the rest of their clothing. This will greatly reduce the chances of frostbite.
Fill up their tummies before their winter adventure.
Children should never be sent out in the cold on an empty stomach. The calories they get from a well-balanced, hot meal will keep them warm and give their bodies energy. If your children are going to be out for the whole day, make sure they take snack and hydration breaks.
Mom and Dad know best so keep an eye on them.
As always, the most effective way to keep your children safe in any situation is to monitor them closely. Symptoms like shivering, exhaustion and confusion could be signs of hypothermia. Children should never be exposed to extreme weather conditions, no matter how bundled up they are. If there is ever a winter weather advisory or even if you yourself don’t feel like it’s safe for your children to go outside, keep them indoors and treat them to some hot cocoa. (Marshmallows required.)
Above all, get out and play with your children in the snow. The time together is critical to developing your relationship and just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we should all stay bottled up in the house.
Have a wonderful new year and please share any tips of your own in the comments.
Ken Levinson is a Chicago-based child injury lawyer and child safety advocate. If your child has been injured or worse, please call Ken Levinson at Joseph, Lichtenstein and Levinson at 312-346-9270 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Although based in Chicago, Ken works on child injury cases across the country.