I just love the snow. I hate being cold, but there’s something beautiful about walking through freshly fallen snow. What about you, do you like walking in the snow? Do your children love being outside? If you allow them to walk to school during the fall and spring, why not allow them to walk during the winter months? Below are some safety tips for navigating through a winter wonderland!
Pedestrian Winter Safety:
Walking in the winter can be hazardous because we are often sharing space with cars driving in the same conditions.
“Visibility is one of the problems,” says Elaine Dimitroff from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. “Bad weather affects visibility for both the driver and pedestrians.”
Be aware that:
- Snowbanks can block a child’s view or a driver’s view when they are pulling out of a driveway or a side street.
- Snowy roads have less room for vehicles and pedestrians.
- People don’t always drive to accommodate road and weather conditions.
- Ice on the road, or poor visibility in a storm, can send a car off its path.
To avoid injury, Dimitroff offers these tips:
Use the STOP, LOOK and LISTEN rule:
►STOP before stepping into the road
►LOOK all ways for traffic
►LISTEN for vehicles with no distractions like headphones or electronics.
- Children under 10 should always walk with an adult.
- ALWAYS make eye contact with oncoming drivers before proceeding across their path, especially vehicles intending to turn. Drivers may be focused on looking for gaps in traffic to merge into, and not paying attention to pedestrians crossing the road.
- Wear boots with good treads on them to prevent slips and falls.
- Hoods and hats affect peripheral vision, so you and your children may have to look a number of times before crossing the street.
- If the sidewalks are not cleared and you have to walk on the road, walk facing traffic and as close to the edge as possible.
- Wear reflective gear and light or bright colours. Most kids’ jackets have reflective strips, but you can buy reflective strips or tape at stores like Canadian Tire or the Running Room.
- Never allow children to play in snowbanks near the road. Drivers can’t see them and there is a risk of sliding into the street and being hit by a car or snow plow.
- Snow plows can be fun to watch for kids, but snow plow drivers often can’t see them due to the height of the truck and blowing snow. Keep kids away from snow plows.
Winter Play Tips:
Source: Parachute Canada
- Children should play indoors if the temperature or the wind chill falls below -25 C (-13 F). This is the temperature at which exposed skin freezes in a few minutes.
- Clothing should be warm and dry and:
►A hat and clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, which trap warm air against your body. A few lighter layers protect better than one heavy garment
►Loose layers (an absorbent synthetic fabric next to skin, a warmer middle layer, and a water resistant/repellent outer layer)
►Vulnerable areas such as fingers, toes, ears and nose, should be protected
►A single pair of socks, either wool or a wool blend (with silk or polypropylene) is better than cotton which offers no insulation when wet. Avoid extra thick socks as they can cause cold feet by restricting blood flow and air circulation around the toes
►Be sure boots are dry and not too tight
- Children should get out of wet clothes and shoes as quickly as possible as they are the biggest factors in frostbite.
- Always make sure children:
►Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature. If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water
►Take frequent breaks from the cold to let their body warm up
►Use sunscreen, even on cloudy days
- Go here for more tips on sledding and skating safety.