While snowstorms can be a major inconvenience for adults, kids see it as a great time to climb, build, and slide on mountains of white stuff. It’s fantastic to see our kids being active and creative outside for hours on end, particularly after being cooped up for hours inside! But it is important to be aware of the potential hazards of snow play.
Snow forts and tunnels
- At least one Canadian child suffocates each year after being trapped in a snow structure.
- Kids should only build snow forts without roofs, since snow roofs can collapse.
- Active supervision is important. School-aged children should play outside with a friend who could call for help if a situation arose.
- Children should never play in or on snow banks that border roads, since snow plow operators and other drivers may not see them.
- Children should keep well away from snowblowers (both the machine itself and the snow plume that is ejected from it).
Sledding and tobogganing
- Choose a properly fitting hockey helmet to protect your child’s head while sledding. Hockey helmets are recommended because they are designed to protect against multiple impacts on icy surfaces.
- Children should sled feet first. Going down a hill head first could result in a head or neck injury.
- Teach children to sled down the middle of the hill and walk up the side of the hill once they reach the bottom.
- Make sure hills are free of rocks, fences, poles, and trees.
- Make sure hills are a safe distance away from any lakes, roads, or parking lots.
Dressing for the weather
- Hats should be warm, close fitting, and cover the earlobes.
- Mittens keep fingers warmer than gloves.
- Always dress in loose layers with a water-resistant outer layer.
- Wear bright-coloured clothing to be easily seen.
- Boots should be dry and not too tight.
- Wool or wool blend socks are best. Cotton socks provide little or no insulation when wet.
- Remove drawstrings, cords and scarves. These can be strangulation hazards. Instead, choose tubular neck warmers (without loose ends).
- Change out of wet clothes quickly.
- Children should be kept inside if the temperature dips below –25 C