Fun in the Winter Sun
It’s true that many safety concerns are the same regardless of season. For example, parents still need to remember sunscreen. Even though it might seem odd, you can get sunburn in the winter. The sunlight reflects off snow and ice.
- Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. They need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time outside. Consult the instructions on the bottle.
- You should also wear protective eyewear and an SPF lip balm.
When thinking about outside activity, think about clothing, too. Layering is a good idea; so are moisture-wicking fabrics and clothing that’s geared to the sport. Keep in mind that regulating body temperature is more difficult in younger children (just as it is during warm weather), so hypothermia can occur more easily. For example, kids can sweat when they’re warm and, as they remove layers, that sweat can chill them quickly when it gets exposed to the cold air.
Parents have to be really proactive and responsible about dressing children appropriately in layers, covering their heads and necks.
Watch out for fashion trends that could land you in the ER:
- Long scarves and cords can get caught in sled blades.
- Hoods can block peripheral vision.
Injuries can happen anywhere, anytime. Be aware and use caution.
- Children should always wear helmets while sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and playing ice hockey.
- Parents should also make sure that the hill your children are sledding down doesn’t empty onto a pond that might not be frozen solid.
- Don’t load up the sled with multiple riders; take turns. "Reckless play," or actively trying to crash into each other or knock people off, is obviously a setup for injury.
If you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding trip:
- Have the equipment fitted by a professional.
- A child in too-large boots can trip and fall.
- A child in skis that aren’t the right size can fall, too.
- Wrist fractures, commonplace in snowboarding, can be prevented by simply using wrist guards.
Used equipment is fine, but check it out before you buy it:
- Look at the laces.
- Look for broken blades.
- Make sure the leather on hockey and ice skates isn’t too broken down around the ankles.
- If you need a mouth guard, wear one.
If it’s a new activity, work with your child to master the skill first. For example, play it safe by starting with a snowboarding lesson before you all hit the slopes.
It’s recommended, appropriate and safe, to start slow or on a more gentle slope. Practice with your equipment and gradually build up to a steeper slope or faster speed. Be patient and resist pressure to take on more than you’re ready for.
By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that your children get the healthy benefits ts of winter exercise without taking unnecessary risks.
Last Updated 12/6/2012
Source Adapted from Healthy Children Magazine, Winter 2008
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.