Winter is officially here, which means that snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are now relatively common in many parts of the country. And as you prepare to celebrate the holidays and look forward to 2021, you’ll want to put the well-being of your family above all else.
Although the pandemic is probably at the forefront of your mind, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 isn’t the only hazard your loved ones might face this season. As a parent, it’s a good idea to review some of the most common wintertime dangers your kids might face — from sports injuries and frostbite to car crashes and household hazards — in order to prevent these scenarios from playing out this winter. Here are just a few ways you can help your kids avoid many of these wintertime injuries.
Encourage Proper Layering
When your kiddos head out the door to build a snow fort or go sledding, it’s important that they’re dressed properly. Make sure that they’re dressed in layers that can be removed if they become wet with snow or they get too hot. Since cotton is breathable, that won’t do the trick; opt for wool or warmer textiles instead. Ideally, they should be wearing long underwear, a long-sleeved top or turtleneck, a sweater or sweatshirt, and their winter coat, along with gloves, a scarf, thick socks, a hat, and waterproof snow boots. They definitely need proper footwear to prevent slipping on the ice! While all of this might seem excessive, hypothermia and frostbite can quickly set in with prolonged exposure to the cold. If you don’t want the weather to cut their playtime short, make sure they’re properly bundled up.
Eliminate Household Hazards
Staying home is one of the best ways we have to stop the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean our houses are 100% safe. The U.S. EPA estimates that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused by radon, which can occur in many homes, for example. In addition to this threat, there are other household hazards to be aware of in winter. House fires stemming from space heaters, electric blankets, heating pads, or lit candles are incredibly common during the colder months. Always keep space heaters at least three feet away from any flammable materials and unplug them when they aren’t in use; if you need to use a space heater, make sure it’s one with an automatic shut-off function. If you’re using the fireplace, keep your children away from its door or screen and make sure to extinguish the fire before leaving the room. Be sure to examine your Christmas lights for any frayed wires and blow out any candles you might have left burning (or use fake ones instead!). Be sure to keep floors clean and dry; they can easily become slippery when your kids come indoors from playing in the snow, so have them wipe and remove their shoes promptly. Be sure to test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well.
Supervise Outdoor Activities
Whether your kids love to ski, sled, or skate, they shouldn’t be doing it alone. Even if they stay within your backyard, it’s important that they’re well supervised at all times. This can ensure they stay in areas that are safe and that they aren’t engaging in activities beyond their skill level. Winter sports injuries can be devastating — and while there are more than 6,200 hospitals nationwide, you probably won’t want to spend time in any of them this winter if you can help it. By keeping a close eye on your kids’ outdoor activities, you may be able to prevent an accident and ensure nothing derails their fun.
Engage in Safe Driving Behaviors
If you’re piling everyone in the car to run an errand or to travel anywhere for the holidays, you’ll want to put safety first. Inclement weather is common during the wintertime and you may not realize how dangerous the roads are until it’s too late. Be sure to check the forecast before you leave the house and eliminate any unnecessary travel, as a rule. In the winter, make sure to slow down and watch for icy streets to reduce your risk of a crash. Although states like Texas have a two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury civil suits, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid any legal scenario involving a collision. To help keep distractions to a minimum, talk to your kids about appropriate voice levels and other behaviors while in the car.
As a parent, you can’t always protect your children from harm. But this winter, staying diligent can safeguard them from some of the most common hazards. Refer to this list to ensure your loved ones don’t experience harm throughout the colder months.