Don’t let cold weather prevent outside fun. A few precautions can keep your kids safe, warm and active.
Find time to go outside
Short winter days can make it harder to find time to get outside. Consider delaying homework until after dinner a few afternoons a week to let your child be active outdoors before the sun goes down and the temperature drops.
Layering clothing properly is the key to keeping kids toasty when they’re outside. Infants and young children need one more layer of clothes than an adult would wear outdoors, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Choose fabrics with care. Clothing next to the skin should absorb moisture, while outer layers should be windproof and waterproof. Use thermal underwear on top and bottom, and bundle kids up in hats, gloves and scarves to protect exposed skin from the cold and wind.
Don't skip the sunscreen
Sun damage can happen any time of year. Harmful ultraviolet rays pass right through clouds, and snow lying on the ground can reflect those rays back onto your child’s exposed skin.
Watch the temperature
If you’re not sure if it’s too cold for kids to go outside, check the wind chill — this number measures the total effect of outdoor weather conditions, including wind speed and temperature, on exposed skin.
When kids are dressed correctly, it’s OK for them to be outside when the wind chill is 32 degrees Fahrenheit and above, according to “Child Care Weather Watch,” a resource from the Iowa Department of Public Health. They can play outdoors safely if it’s between 13 and 31 degrees, as long as they take frequent breaks to warm up inside.
With a wind chill below 13 degrees, kids can get frostbite before they realize it. Skip outdoor time entirely on those days and arrange indoor activities instead.
Know when to go inside
Children often get caught up in play and don’t pay attention to signs that it’s too cold. Even older children and teens are susceptible to this, so supervise your kids carefully when temperatures are low.
Frostnip, a precursor to frostbite, leaves skin pale and tingly. Kids who experience it should come inside right away.
- White, waxy skin
- Stinging pain
- Skin that feels hard
- Chattering teeth
- Dizziness or clumsiness
- Feeling weak
- Cold feet and hands
- Pale skin
- Puffy or swollen face
- Slurred speech