Cold Weather Safety

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Melissa Bugaj

Melissa Bugaj

 

It’s crunch time for Jack Frost. As the personification of winter, he’s now very busy nipping at noses, icing windowpanes, freezing lakes and spreading snowy weather. He’s also dropping the temperatures, which can fluctuate greatly depending on what part of the country you call home. Because I was born and raised in Boston, snow was always part of my winter. And, now that I live in the Northern Virginia area with my husband and children, it’s still a big part of my cold weather routine.

Just as in summer, we as parents need to be aware of the safety hazards associated with this weather so that our children can enjoy the powdery wonderland without risk of injury or frostbite. To get you started with cold weather safety, let’s talk about what all of the warning, advisory and wind chill language means.

WINTERY WEATHER LINGO (source: Iowa Department of Public Health)

  • Blizzard Warning. There will be significant snowfall and strong winds that produce blinding conditions, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chills. Seek shelter immediately.
  • Wind Chill Warning. There will be sub-zero temperatures with moderate to strong winds expected which may cause hypothermia and great danger to people, pets and livestock.
  • Winter Weather Advisory. Weather conditions may cause significant inconveniences and be hazardous. If caution is exercised, these situations should not become life-threatening.
  • Winter Storm Warning. Severe winter conditions are coming to your area.
  • Winter Storm Watch. Severe winter conditions, like heavy snow and ice, are possible within the next day or two.

KNOW YOUR WIND-CHILL LIMITS!

  • 10-30 degrees Fahrenheit is cold and generally uncomfortable. You should use caution when going outside to play in the snow.
  • -20 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit is biting with a significant risk of frostbite. When these temperatures hit your area, it is strongly recommended that you and your children remain indoors. Exposure to these temperatures for lengthy periods can be hazardous to their health as well as your own.

PLAYING IT SAFE

Sunblock in Winter? Yes, it’s true. The sun shining off the bright, white landscape makes it easier for UV rays to burn your skin so apply sunblock to anything exposed before going outside.

Cover it Up. When you go outside with your children, be sure to bundle up with hats, gloves, boots and layers of clothing underneath winter jackets and snow pants. Although cotton is warm, it soaks in wetness, which then stays cold against your skin. Wool or other water-resistant fabrics are more effective for maintaining and utilizing your own body heat. And don’t forget to protect any exposed facial skin by applying lotion or petroleum jelly to prevent it from becoming dry and cracked.

Safety First. When sledding, skiing or snowboarding, always survey the area first to ensure that you’re in a clear, safe place with no risk of running into trees or other obstacles. Often, as the snow melts and refreezes over multiple days, the surface of the ground can harden and become very icy resulting in a much faster run for the sled, skis, etc. For this reason, it’s imperative that you consider the severity of the decline (slope) and equipment being used to determine if your child can maneuver and even stop it if necessary.

Some parts of this country spend half the year braving the snow. Keeping these simple tips in mind can help make your winter safe and FUN for everyone!

Melissa is the founder and editor of According to Mags, a blog about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. She also co-produces with her husband a children’s story podcast called Night Light Stories. Melissa is the proud mom of a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is in her thirteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, she is a supervisor for student teachers at Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher in the evenings.

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