Winter sports can be exhilarating. The biting wind, and lots of fluffy snow and slippery ice, combine to send shivers down the spine — not just from the cold, but from all the fun! While many adults hate freezing temperatures, tweens not only accept them, they actually embrace them.
Reviewing ways to keep a child safe while he or she enjoys winter sports may seem overprotective to some, but outside activities during cold months do have the potential to cause injury or even death. So don’t be caught off guard. Implement the following safety rules with your tween today.
First, a child must NEVER venture onto ice that has not been tested and approved by the proper authorities. This includes skating on streams, ponds, lakes, lagoons, and rivers. Since I have spent most of my life in Wisconsin, I fully realize the danger of drowning during the winter. In fact, a good friend of mine died in this manner when we were both 11.
The creek behind his house had been frozen for days, so this young man decided to go ice skating. Once in the middle of the creek, the ice gave way, and he went into the water. While he may have survived if he had fallen into the creek in the summer, winter posed an even greater danger. Why? When he went under the water, the current carried him down stream where the ice proved too thick for him to break from underneath. Tragic, but preventable.
Parents should also discuss safe sledding with their tweens. Hills that are too steep should be avoided, especially if they lie close to a road. Again, the danger is real. My mother’s best friend died after sledding down a huge hill and into traffic on a busy highway.
Other dangers while sledding include: trees too close to the run and crowds too large to fit the venue. In addition, teach a tween not to scrunch too many children onto one sled. It may appear fun to go down a hill in a heap, but when the whole mess overturns, broken bones may result.
Finally, no matter what outside sport a child partakes in, he or she must be dressed properly, including heavy coats, snow pants, hats, scarves, and gloves. As I mentioned, children have a tendency to not feel the cold; therefore, they can end up with severe frostbite. As a parent, one must monitor the wind chill, as well as the length of time a child has been outside in the elements.
Winter sports and activities are wonderful for tweens to take part in. A Wisconsin native, I have many fond memories of skating, sledding, skiing, hiking, and the like during even the coldest days of January. But now that I’m a parent, I realize that my mom and dad could have done a better job of teaching me about winter sports safety.
If they had done so, I might still have feeling in the tips of two of my fingers that suffered long-term damage from frostbite!