There’s nothing like playing in the snow to banish the misery of the bitterly cold weather. However it can be risky, especially for young children.
Sledging and tobogganing are great fun, and the heavy and sustained snowfall of recent years means more and more children have a chance to enjoy it.
- Choose a slope that’s not too steep – an ideal slope ends with a long flat run
- Don’t sledge on slopes that end near a road, pond or lake, line of trees, fence or wall
- Make sure the slope is free of obstacles such as trees and rocks
- Only sledge during the daytime when obstacles are visible
- Only let children sledge on their own when they know how to stop
- Consider a helmet - ideally a ski helmet, but a bike helmet is better than nothing
- Never let your children go down head first. Not only will they have less time to react if something gets in their way, but an injury to the upper body is worse than to the legs. So legs first — always.
- Get a sled that allows for control — either in steering or brakes.
We’re not accustomed to really cold weather in the UK, and cold spells usually take everyone by surprise. Countries such as Canada have far greater experience of sledging safety, and in addition to the above safety tips, they emphasise that many tobogganing and sledging injuries are related to frostbite and hypothermia. Make sure that children, especially those under the age of three, are wrapped up warm and change out of wet clothes as soon as they get home.
How to dress for snow:
Waterproof boots with a warm lining
Hat, scarf and mittens/gloves
Waterproof coat with a warm lining
Waterproof bottoms like ski pants
Lots of layers
Drinking lots of liquid is good advice for all weathers not just hot summers. When you're outside in the cold and breathing hard, you lose a lot of your body's water through your breath and the best way to get that water back is to drink up!
Top tip! Warm drinks and soups keep you hydrated and heat up your insides when it's cold outside.
Snowball fights, follow the rules!
Snowball fights are wonderful wintertime fun, as long as everyone plays safely. Set some ground rules and make sure to supervise/referee to avoid any accidents.
Make sure that no one is directly throwing at the face, head, or the exposed skin of another child, and make sure that none of the children are packing ice into their snowballs.
Being a role model
Studies have shown that older children and teenagers are more likely to want to take risks. Managing their safety is more difficult, so we recommend that parents help their children to understand the risks and encourage them to adopt safe habits early on.
Demonstrate how you wrap up warm before going out in the cold and snow, show how you take care when walking on icy pathways and talk about how you can all enjoy a safer winter.