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3 Winter Perils to Avoid

by Ronald A. Rowe | January 7th, 2015 | Elementary, Safety

child skiing (400x400)The turn of the New Year brings with it the coldest weather of the year.  January’s wintery bluster brings a whole new set of challenges for parents of elementary children.  Depending on your local climate, these winter dangers can range from mild inconveniences to potentially severe health and safety peril.  Here are a few of the most common hazards of which you need to be mindful during the heart of winter.

Cold and Flu

To paraphrase an old real estate adage, the three best lines of defense against cold and flu season are: hand washing, hand washing, and hand washing.  Getting your kids to wash their hands – really wash them, not just splash them under water for 3 seconds – is your best hope for stopping colds and flu before they even start.  It never hurts to make sure that they are getting plenty of vitamin C and D as well.  Parents should also practice what they preach in this area.  Don’t load your kids up with vitamins and neglect yourself.  Taking proper care of yourself has the dual benefit of modeling the desirable behavior for your children and serving to protect you from winter illness.

Frostbite / Hypothermia

It may seem common sense to you to come inside when it gets too cold, but elementary age children may not have developed that internal thermometer.  More accurately, they have trouble gauging the long-term effects of staying outside too long against the short-term benefit of more playtime with their friends.   Parents need to set and enforce weather-appropriate time limits on outside play in the winter months.  It is also imperative that you set the dress code for outside play.  Most kids would just as soon skip the gloves and hat and just get out there and play.  Sometimes the first jacket your child sees (and therefore the one he’ll grab on his way out the door) is not one that is warm enough for the weather conditions.  It is up to you to make sure that he is dressed appropriately when outside and comes in from the cold before the frigid air has a detrimental health impact.

Winter Injuries

Wintertime brings with it a whole new range of activities.  Snowball fights are fun, but children need to be taught the difference between a snowball and a hunk of hard ice.  The trouble is that it isn’t enough for your child to know that.  The neighborhood kids who will be lobbing snow and ice at your child need to be instructed as well.  Snowmobiling, sledding, skiing, and other winter activities can be dangerous.  You can minimize the risk by making sure that your child is properly trained and supervised.  Other activities, like football or tag, become a little more dangerous in wintertime than they are the rest of the year because the ground is harder and more prone to cause injury when tackling, diving, and generally being a kid.  Keep a close eye on your children’s activities and be prepared for a few extra bumps and bruises.

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