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  • Institute Staff

Winter Preparation and Safety Tips for Parents and Children


Winter is such a wonderful and special time of the year! It’s a season centered around joy and laughter, filled with families coming together to celebrate the holidays, building snowmen, going sledding, and staying warm indoors. But with freezing temperatures, winter must be approached with caution and requires proper preparation.

Snow-Storm Preparation

Planning for winter storms helps eliminate the sudden onset of fear and panic in both adults and children. There are a variety of steps to take to tackle inclement weather head on.

  • Secure an alternative heat source and a generator because winter storms can lead to power outages.

  • Properly insulate windows and pipes in your home.

  • Buy a battery-powered radio for emergency broadcasts.

  • Pack a 72-hour emergency kit. Include non-perishable food and plenty of water, ideally 1 gallon per person. Pack extra batteries, medication, snow equipment, flashlights, coats, socks, hand/foot warmers, blankets, and extra clothing layers.

  • Have a snow emergency kit in your car: a small shovel, gravel/sand, and extra floor mats. Also, include a cell phone charger.

  • Make a family emergency plan. Know how you will contact one another and how you plan to get back together. Be sure to include the entire family in making this plan to ensure all members are comfortable with it.

  • Plan your emergency driving route. Know which roads will be off-limits during a storm and choose safer roadways. Always have at least 2 routes to pick up your child.

  • During the storm: watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Preparing Children for Outdoors

Playing outside in the snow is something children look forward to the most, but safety needs to remain the utmost priority. Bundling children up for winter weather is necessary. Additionally, caregivers need to check on their children frequently to make sure they are safe, comfortable, and not at risk for frostbite or hypothermia. Here are a few tips we recommend to keep your children safe during the frigid winter weather:

  • Dress Children in Layers: Make sure to cover a child’s head, neck, hands, and feet. Babies and young children cannot regulate their body temperature, so dress young children in an extra layer of clothing. It is safer to provide an extra layer than to risk the dangers of being too cold.

  • Avoid scarves or clothing with drawstrings in young children- these can cause strangulation!

  • Learn the warning signs of hypothermia, which is abnormally low body temperature: Confusion, shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness, and stiff muscles.

  • Make sure to show your children the areas it is safe for them to play. Keep them away from water (rivers, lakes, ponds) and far from roads.

  • Make sure older children play outside in groups. If children are younger than 12, an adult should always be outside with them.

  • Teach children about the dangers of cold weather, and make sure they know the warning signs for hypothermia and frostbite. Have them come inside for breaks frequently.

  • Make sure children wear shoes with grippers on the bottom to avoid falls and injuries on ice and snow, especially if they’re playing winter sports.

Spotting Hypothermia

One main risk associated with playing outdoors in frigid and wet conditions is hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia can be detected by a caregiver, and if hypothermia is suspected, contact 9-1-1 immediately, remove wet clothing, and wrap in warm blankets. Do not place the child in hot water or directly in front of heaters. Hypothermia is deadly. In fact, there are nearly 1,300 hypothermia-related deaths every year.


  • Body temperature drops below 97.5 °F

  • A weak cry

  • Low energy levels

  • Lethargy

  • Cold, red skin

  • Unable to eat or drink

  • Labored breathing

  • Weight loss



With decades of experience in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery, The Institute for Childhood Preparedness is ready to help! Prepare your child care program for a winter weather emergency by scheduling a training with us today: https://www.childhoodpreparedness.org/training.



Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2794526/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6151a6.htm

https://www.parents.com/baby/safety/outdoor/winter-weather-safety-guide/

https://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/pdf/severewinterstormtips.pdf

https://www.mymove.com/broadband/can-climate-change-kill-the-internet/

https://www.medicinenet.com/hypothermia_extended_exposure_to_cold/article.htm#what_causes_hypothermia