2-year-old Ka'Zyiah, outside her home in Tenneessee, where families awoke to freezing temps during an unprecedented storm in Feburary 2021.
10 Winter Safety Tips for Children
Extreme weather conditions and events, like record-low temperatures, can threaten children’s lives and disrupt infrastructure critical to children’s well-being. Power-outages due to cold weather can create even more challenges for staying safe and warm.
Here, our emergency response experts share winter safety tips to help children stay safe, whether you're staying indoors or weighing the risks of outdoor winter activities.
Here are 10 Cold Weather Safety Tips to Protect Children:
- Layer up! Bitter cold and snow can cause frostbite. Dress your child in several layers, and make sure their head, neck and hands are covered. Dress babies and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear.
- Play it safe. Even when roads are closed to traffic, it’s not safe to play or sled in the street. Visibility may be limited due to snowbanks and ice on the roads makes braking difficult.
- Beware of clothing hazards. Scarves and hood strings can strangle smaller children so use other clothing to keep them warm.
- Check in on warmth. Before kids head outside, tell them to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Then keep watching them and checking in. They may want to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.
- Use sunscreen. Children and adults can still get sunburned in the winter. Sun can reflect off the snow, so apply sunscreen to exposed areas.
- Use caution around fires. Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and outdoor fire-pits are cozy but can present danger – especially to small children. Use caution and put up protective gates when possible. If you’ve lost power or heat and are alternative heating methods like kerosene or electric heaters, be sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
- Get trained and equipped. Children should wear helmets when snowboarding, skiing, sledding or playing ice hockey. And to avoid injuries, teach children how to do the activity safely.
- Prevent nosebleeds. If your child suffers from minor winter nosebleeds, use a cold-air humidifier in their room. Saline nose drops can help keep their nose moist.
- Keep them hydrated. In drier winter air kids lose more water through their breath. Offer plenty of water, and try giving them warm drinks and soup for extra appeal.
- Watch for danger signs. Signs of frostbite are pale, grey or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes. If you think your child has frostbite bring the child indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think your child has hypothermia call 9-1-1 immediately.
As extreme temperatures leave many vulnerable families living in poverty with less food, less clean water, lower incomes and worsening health, Save the Children is working to help communities prevent, prepare for, and recover from climate-induced disasters. Learn more about our current emergency responses.
Sources: Save the Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Health System
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