Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Winter Safety Tips

Photo: flickr/popofatticus

True, we don't live in a winter wonderland. But as soon as the word "winter" pops out of the weather forecaster's mouth, families are heading for the hills to ski, sled, tube or snow shoe.

Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind this winter, whether you are traveling over a mountain pass, enjoying some fun snow sports or activities, and even if you plan to hunker down at home.

Safety Tips for Driving

  • Don't strap them in with bulky winter clothes. We know you want your little ones to be warm this winter season, but don't strap your child into a car seat with a bulky coat or snowsuit as it can affect the ability of your car seat to do its job. A bulky coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness. To properly secure your child, the harness straps must be snug and close to their body. To keep your child warm and toasty after you remove the bulky coat, you can use a blanket (or even the removed coat) placed over the tightened car seat harness.
  • Stock up the car. You never know when you might get stuck in the cold and snow, so always have an emergency bag stocked in your car. Be sure to include necessities such as food, formula, water, diapers, extra blankets and a spare set of warm clothing. You'll probably never need it but it's nice to have just in case.

Resource: Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a source for information about child safety and injury prevention, and Julie Kleinert, North American Child Safety Technical Lead for General Motors.

Winter Sports and Activities

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles. Sledding on city streets can be dangerous, even when the street is closed. Kids (or grown-ups) can slide into cross traffic or even a parked car, causing serious injuries. Look for Sno-Parks near Seattle for good sledding and tubing spots. Also, city golf courses may open for sledding in snowy weather.
  • Sled feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, to help prevent head injuries. As well, consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Don't forget warm boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, which can occur more quickly in children than in adults. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Resource: "Winter Safety Tips" from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Know the forecast. Stay informed and know the weather that is approaching so you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.
  • Make an emergency plan and practice the plan with your family and those who depend on you. Discuss with your family how to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Everyone, including kids, should have a plan for how they will communicate during an emergency.

Resource: Take Winter by Storm, a website that offers winter weather preparedness tips and resources for Western Washington, up-to-the-minute forecasts, emergency checklists and family communication plan ideas.