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Important safety tips for kids playing in the snow

A New York teen is the first confirmed death from the blizzard affecting much of the Northeast. Before your kids head outside to play or shovel snow, please keep these important safety tips in mind.

Playing outside in the snow is a magical part of childhood, but as the New York death shows, playing outside in frozen conditions has a set of dangers that are unique to winter. If your children love to sled, build snowmen or help shovel the driveway, you’ll need to make sure you adhere to these safety tips.

Layer up

Before your child heads out to play in the freezing weather, you’ll want to bundle her up. But there is a method you should keep in mind — wrap her in layers. Thermal pants and shirts are excellent first layers, then add as needed, with a few extra shirts or pairs of socks under snow pants and a good coat. This way your child can peel off layers as needed when she gets hot.

Dress to avoid frostbite

While you make sure your children are bundled up, don’t forget those tender ears, fingers, toes and little noses. These body parts are particularly susceptible to frostbite and need to have more protection. Hats, scarves, waterproof gloves, extra socks, waterproof boots and even a ski mask can make all the difference to your child’s delicate parts.

Set a timer

Kids can stay outside for hours if the temperature is on the higher end of “below freezing,” but when the wind chill plunges, you’ll want to limit outside play to 30 to 60 minutes at a time. These frequent breaks not only allow your kids to warm up on a regular basis, but they will give them an opportunity to drink a mug of cocoa or have some warm soup, which can help them stay hydrated. They can also take that time to swap out clothing that has become wet.

Discourage tunnel digging

While digging a tunnel in the snow can be tons of fun, they are not structurally sound and shouldn’t be something your child tries to do. The problem? The tunnel can collapse around the child, which is extremely dangerous, especially if they’re alone.

Watch out for sledding obstacles

If your child is ready to hop onto a sled, watch out for obstacles that lie in his path. Trees and light poles pose the biggest dangers, but you should also look out for street signs and rocks. While accidents aren’t terribly common, they do happen, and the results can be deadly.

Don’t run cold hands under hot water

If your child’s hands are extremely cold, your first instinct may be to run them under hot water to warm them up. Don’t! Skin that is very cold is more susceptible to burns. Warm water can do the trick by slowly warming up the skin and tissues until they feel better.

Playing outside in the snow is amazing fun — just make sure you and your kids follow these safety tips to keep the dangers at bay.

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