Winter can be a really fun time of year—it’s great to have snowball fights, build snowmen and construct igloos. But while you're out having fun, you have to know how to be safe.
Love those layers
Dressing in layers is the best way to stay warm and toasty in the cold, because you can start out with lots of clothes to keep you warm and then peel them off once you start to heat up.
Depending on where you live and how cold it is, some kids may need more layers, some less. But if you’re in doubt, go for more layers to start—they can always come off later. (Whatever you do, always leave your coat on—that's one layer that should stay.)
Start by putting on a long-sleeved undershirt and pants (thermal or woolen). Then put on a turtleneck, one or two shirts, a sweater and a coat, as well as waterproof pants (avoid jeans and cotton pants). If you can, pick out clothes that are made of fabrics other than cotton, because cotton doesn't keep you very warm.
Finish up with heavy socks and waterproof boots. If you’re going to be doing a lot of trekking around, you'll want to wear boots that have good treads for keeping you steady on snowy and icy areas.
Grab that hat
You’re all bundled up and ready to go, but are you forgetting something? Pull a hat onto your head. You'll stay much warmer with a hat than without one—tons of body heat escapes right from your head. Scarves, facemasks and earmuffs are also great at covering you up so you’ll stay comfortable longer.
And don’t forget mittens or gloves—the waterproof kind are best if you know you'll be playing around a lot in the snow. Keeping your hands warm and dry is important because fingers are very sensitive to the cold.
Sounds like advice for hot weather, not cold weather, right? Well, the truth is that it’s good advice for both kinds of weather. When you’re outside in the cold and breathing hard, you lose a lot of your body's water through your breath. And the best way to get that water back is to drink up.
Warm drinks and soups keep you hydrated and heat up your insides when it's cold outside.
Take it easy
Sometimes if you're out having fun, it’s easy to forget to pay attention to your body. But if your body temperature drops even 4 or 5 degrees while you’re outside, it can make you feel crummy.
That’s why you need to be alert to your body's signals. If you’re starting to shiver or your teeth are chattering, it’s a message from your body that you need to head inside. And if you ever feel dizzy or weak, those are sure signs that you have to take it easy indoors for a while.
Keeping an eye on other kids can help make things safe. If it looks like a friend is shivering and really cold, suggest that you take a break inside together. You can both warm up while playing a game or watching TV and then head back outside for more fun.
Fight the bite
If you’re ever outside and you can’t feel your fingers, toes, cheeks, ears or nose, it may be a sign of frostbite. (Even if it's not frostbite, it's a sign that you should head inside anyway.) Sometimes frostbite can make these body parts hurt or feel hard when you touch them; it can also make the skin on these parts look glossy (shiny) or pale. If you think even for a second that you might have frostbite, go indoors and tell an adult right away.
Once you’re inside, an adult should call your doctor. In the meantime, wiggle the part as much as you can—this will make more blood go to the area. If it’s possible, hold the part against another area of your body that's warm—like holding your fingers on your stomach, for example.
Finally, if you ever think you have frostbite, never stick the frostbitten part in hot water or hold something hot against it. Putting the part in warm water is okay—just be sure you have an adult check the temperature first.
Keeping safe in the winter is easy to do, once you know how. You want your snow day and other cold days to be the most fun they can be, so put on those layers, wear your hat and gloves, have something warm to drink, and head out for the biggest snowball championship ever!
When an unexpected, severe injury or illness occurs, you need high-quality care fast. With 11 emergency rooms (ERs) in our network, HCA Midwest Health is here for you when an emergency situation arises. Our hospital and freestanding ERs provide 24/7 emergency care to patients of all ages with locations throughout Kansas City and its surrounding communities. Learn more at our emergency care page.