Brave Montana Winters – Cold Weather Safety
Many Missoula residents will admit they have a love/hate relationship with Montana’s brutal winters. Complete with sleet, graupel, snowdrifts that claim ownership of your vehicle. As annoying as our travel set-backs can be, the primary goal is preparing to actually brave the frigid conditions outdoors. Most importantly, whether traveling by vehicle or walking, is preparing children to brave these conditions with us. Many parents want to safely travel with their kiddos (no matter what age), so read on to learn how…
10 Cold Weather Safety Tips for Kids
Maintain a sunny disposition
Don’t let the frigid temps fool you. It’s still not time to pack away the sunscreen. In fact, snow reflects more than 75% of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. So, plan a visit to your basement, storage unit, or anywhere else you might have packed your summer gear and locate the box you may have thrown the bottle of sunscreen in to. (In my experience, it’s always the last box in the back under the heaviest items you store.) Or you can just visit the store and pick up a new tube, but don’t expect an after season price decrease.
As you just learned, sunscreen is in demand year-round. While bundled up for cold weather fun, you typically only expose your face, so pay special attention to slathering sunscreen there and any other spots that are not covered with clothing.
Snug as a bug in a rug - but not TOO snug
Winter wear should fit your kids properly, but gear shouldn’t be so tight that it restricts movement. This is an especially important rule for footwear. Too-tight boots constrict blood flow, which causes feet to become even colder. When sizing boots, allow room for an extra pair of thick boot socks.
Be clever about clothing choices
When sending your little ones off to school or out to play, make sure they’re dressed warmly in layers that are wind and waterproof (or at least water resistant). If possible, opt for wool base layers, but cotton works fine. Help them stay warm with adequate head, face, hands and neck protection. You can save time while getting your brood out the door by storing gloves and scarves inside of hats.
Get around safe and sound
Winter driving in Missoula can be very dangerous, so you need to make sure you are properly prepared for any situation. Prepare your car for such emergencies by keeping the following must-haves in your trunk: a first-aid kit, blankets, shovel, rock salt, ice scraper, water and non-perishable snacks.
Practice safety when playing winter sports
If you are unable to supervise your child, make sure there will be a responsible adult who you trust to take the duty. Ice needs to have a proper inspection before anyone starts lacing up their ice skates. Sled paths shouldn’t be too overcrowded or too close to roadways. The safest sleds are those that allow for steering, so avoid snow tubes or disk shaped sleds. If your little ones want to try snowboarding or skiing, consider getting lessons from a qualified instructor. While out on the slopes, they should always wear helmets and gloves with built-in wrist guards and be accompanied by an experienced adult.
Serve superior snacks
Good nutrition can help kids fight off cold and flu season. Strengthen their immunity with balanced nutrition. Snack time is a great opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrients; try dry and fresh fruits, sliced raw veggies, whole wheat crackers with cheese and yogurt.
Keep them hydrated
Although your kids may not sweat as much as they do when in warmer weather, they still need to be well hydrated. Smart choices for winter are low-sugar juices that are high in Vitamin C (which studies have shown can lessen the duration and severity of colds). Decaffeinated tea and hot cocoa are also wise picks - these comforting, hot drinks are a great source of antioxidants, which are believed to strengthen the immune system.
Make your home a safe haven
Be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions by stocking up on essentials, such as extra batteries for flashlights, bottled water, first-aid staples and nonperishable food items. These safety kits can help protect your family in extreme situations.
Get your kids prepared
Make sure your kids have an extra pair of gloves and tissue packs tucked into their backpacks. These necessities will help prevent the spread of germs and come in handy if a glove goes missing.
Heat your home safely
Before temperatures fall below freezing, make sure your home’s heating equipment and your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors function properly. If you own a space heater, keep it away from small children or, better yet, don’t use one at all. Don’t forget to discuss fire safety with your family each winter; the likelihood of indoor fires increases during the colder months, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
With these tips, and using a bit of common sense, you and your family can have a fun-filled and safe winter season.