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Winter Health & Safety Tips
Winter Safety Tips
Winter Health & Safety Tips

Cross Country Skiing


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

By Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, Pediatrics Now

Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating and even camping, climbing and biking are part of many a family's winter adventure. Yet the elements of winter that make a family vacation or weekend outing with the kids both enticing and fun require extra planning and preparation. The following tips will help keep you and the little ones safe and healthy no matter how hard you intend to play in the cold.

The speed and execution of winter holiday sports requires parents' focus on safety. For sports requiring special equipment, be sure the equipment is well made and fits your child properly. Not only can ill fitting equipment potentially hurt your child, it will likely to turn a day of fun into a day to forget. Ski helmets, mandatory for children 14 and under in many European ski resorts, are not just for nerds. We only have one brain and it is not as easy to fix as a broken arm. So, if your child won't wear the helmet, don't let him participate. The risk of injury is simply too high!

Hypothermia, frostbite and frostnip are real winter health risks. All three are caused by exposure to the cold and can be prevented with proper clothing and, in the case of extreme temperatures, avoiding outdoor activity altogether. Don't wait until you feel cold to head inside. Children are more susceptible to weather related injuries than adults.

A good snowsuit is but the start to keeping your children warm and dry. What they wear underneath is just as important. Long underwear, turtlenecks and thick socks are all essential for most outdoor winter sports. While thermal clothing is best, medium weight cotton clothes also work well. Dress them in layers to lock in the heat. If they get too warm, you can always remove a layer. Don't forget to pack a warm hat. Most of our body heat is lost from our heads, so keep them covered!

Protecting your child's eyes from snow, ice and sun is also important. Good ski goggles or sunglasses are crucial for winter sports safety. Not only will they minimize the risk of injury should your child fall in the snow or get hit by a misdirected snowball, they will protect his or her eyes from the glare.

While many of winter's variables from slick roads to icy slopes are beyond your control, you can mitigate the risks. Here's too winter holiday success!

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