Outdoor play is as beneficial for children in the winter as it is in the summer, provided they are properly dressed for the season. Usually, if children’s feet and hands are warm, what they are wearing is appropriate. If children are dressed too heavily, they are likely to sweat and feel colder when they stop playing.
Here are a few important precautions:
- Remove any drawstrings or cords from children’s clothing that might catch on climbing or other play equipment. Velcro closures, snaps and zippers are the safest fasteners for winter wear. Also, make sure children are wearing neck warmers rather than scarves, and mitten clips instead of strings. Scarves and mitten strings can catch on a climbing structure and strangle a child.
- Dress children in layers of clothing that can be put on and taken off easily.
- Provide children with a warm hat and a hood that covers the ears. Most body heat is lost through the head, and ears can be easily frostbitten.
- Provide warm, waterproof boots that are roomy enough for an extra pair of socks and for toes to wiggle comfortably.
Remember: Young children have less muscle mass, generate less body heat, and get cold more quickly than adults. Check often that children are staying warm and dry while playing outside in the winter, and offer a warm drink when they come in from the cold.
Never send children outside in extreme weather conditions, such as a snowstorm, and keep them indoors whenever the temperature falls below -25 °C (-13 °F), regardless of wind chill. Also keep children indoors, regardless of temperature, when the wind chill factor is reported to be -28 °C (-15 °F) or lower, the point at which exposed skin begins to freeze.
For other winter safety tips for winter play, sledding, skating, and snowmobiling, please check out http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/winter_safety
Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition)