Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

snow safety

10 tips for keeping your kids safe in the Seattle snow

Have fun out there but please keep safety in mind, too. We're not used to this!

Don’t forget snow safety!

Kids + snow = lots of fun, right?

Here are tips from global health organization Save the Children to ensure that kids and babies stay safe and warm.

1. Layer up! Bitter cold and snow can cause frostbite. Dress your child in several layers, and make sure their head, neck and hands are covered. Dress babies and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear.

2. Play it safe. Even when roads are closed to traffic, it’s not safe to play or sled in the street. Visibility may be limited due to snow banks and ice on the roads makes braking difficult.

3. Beware of clothing hazards. Scarves and hood strings can strangle smaller children so use other clothing to keep them warm.

4. Check in on warmth. Before kids head outside, tell them to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Then keep watching them and checking in. They may want to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.

5. Use sunscreen. Children and adults can still get sunburned in the winter. Sun can reflect off the snow, so apply sunscreen to exposed areas.

6. Use caution and put up protective gates when possible. If you’ve lost power or heat and are alternative heating methods like kerosene or electric heaters, be sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Also, use caution around wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and outdoor fire pits. They’re cozy but can present danger – especially to small children.

7. Get trained and equipped. Children should wear helmets when snowboarding, skiing, sledding or playing ice hockey. And to avoid injuries, teach children how to do the activity safely.

8. Prevent nosebleeds. If your child suffers from minor winter nosebleeds, use a cold-air humidifier in their room. Saline nose drops can help keep their nose moist.

9. Keep them hydrated. In drier winter air kids lose more water through their breath. Offer plenty of water, and try giving them warm drinks and soup for extra appeal.

10. Watch for danger signs. Signs of frostbite are pale, gray or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes. If you think your child has frostbite bring the child indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think your child has hypothermia call 911 immediately.

And here’s another one. (This one was new to me!)

During last year’s polar vortex elsewhere in the U.S., a trendy and dangerous stunt called the “boiling water challenge” gained popularity. This apparently involves hurling boiling water into the air and seeing how fast it will freeze. It probably won’t be cold enough here for this to work, anyway, and the obvious risk is a severe burn injury when the boiling water comes back down on you. Yes, people were really doing this. And they really should not have been.

Fun in the snow: creative ways to play

Editor’s note: This was originally published before the last big Seattle snow in 2019.