By Elianna B. Thorne
Minnesota winters are much too long to keep kids inside all the time and playing in the snow can be fun for all ages. However, it’s important to keep children warm and dry in the cold weather months so that they won’t get sick or hurt. Adults also need to dress warmly when they are shoveling snow, clearing off their cars, or are going to be outside for a while.
Small bodies lose heat faster in the cold, so important to dress kids in many layers. Multiple layers mean that kids can remove a layer if they are too warm while still being adequately covered up. Experts in dressing for cold weather recommend these three layers of clothing:
Base layer – shirt
Middle layer – sweater/sweatshirt
Outer layer – waterproof jacket
It’s especially important for kids to also wear boots and snowpants when they are playing in the snow. Warm waterproof boots keep feet from getting cold and wet, and snowpants keep clothes dry by preventing snow from soaking through and adding extra padding against the cold. Wet clothes and skin cool down very quickly and can be dangerous at low temperatures.
In the winter, particularly when windchills and temperatures drop below zero, exposed skin is at risk for frostbite. Hats, gloves or mittens, and scarves protect vulnerable extremities from freezing and prevent windburn on faces. Fingers, nose, ears, and toes are the first to feel the cold, so they should all be well covered. Warm or thermal socks are also a good idea.
To avoid getting too cold, children (and adults!) should go inside if:
- Their nose, fingers, or ears are turning red
- They can’t stop shivering
These are the body’s early warning signs that it’s not handling the cold well. Also, avoid wearing wet clothing any longer than necessary. If kids are playing hard and are sweating, have them unzip their coats for a few minutes to cool off; and, if outdoor clothes get soggy from playing in wet snow or puddles, they should be changed promptly. When children come inside, all wet clothes should be removed and spread out to dry.
We hope that these tips will help keep our students and their families safe and warm so that they can enjoy the beautiful winter weather.