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Teen Perspective: On Eating Snow

by Louise | December 20th, 2010 | Teen Perspective

Winter is my favorite season, and that’s because I absolutely adore snow. I love sledding, skiing, playing in the snow, and of course, coming inside to enjoy the cup of hot cocoa that always follows a few hours of activity in the snow. Shoveling? Okay, I don’t enjoy that too much, but it counts as strength training for the day, right? I can deal with a few hours of shoveling as long as get at least double the amount of time playing in the snow.

A question that many parents have is, “Is it safe to eat snow?” There are many sources which claim that, bacteria-wise, playing in snow is equivalent to playing in dirt. Yikes! Does that mean that eating snow is like eating dirt? Well, I’ve eaten a bit of snow every winter, and I am quite fine. (I’m also fairly sure that no kid has ever died from eating a bit of dirt, though I’m not advocating that.) However, I never lived in a huge city, so I figured that the pollutant levels in the snow weren’t as bad as they might be perhaps in a city. I always considered myself a careful snow-eater, wiping off the top layer to get the bright, white, “clean” snow underneath. Of course, I never eat yellow snow, or any other color for that matter. Let’s make the rule: Don’t eat the [insert any color here other than white] snow.

Aside from the bacteria levels, another reason why it is technically bad to eat snow is that it lowers one’s body temperature. If you’re stranded in the wilderness in the winter, eating snow is never recommended, because it takes the body’s energy to heat it up, and increases the risk of hypothermia. However, when playing in the snow for a couple hours, dressed from head to toe in warm snow gear, it’s unlikely that one truly needs to worry about this effect of snow, unless he or she decides to consume massive quantities. Eating more than a snow cone’s worth might be a cause for heading inside to heat up a bit, but I wouldn’t worry about smaller amounts.

Though eating snow has its risks, so does riding a bicycle, right? All children should know what it feels like to catch a falling snowflake on their tongue. Let it snow!

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