How to keep school kids safe in extreme weather

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Staying outside in extreme cold temperatures is dangerous. We don’t want our kids to be stranded. Be prepared to keep them safe.

Here are a few tips:

Always check announcements

  1. Check weather conditions every morning.
  2. Read 7-day weather forecasts. Prepare ahead of time (check Environment Canada, Manitoba).
  3. Check updates as early as you can. Get information about:
    • Road conditions
    • Bus service (cancellations are announced as early as 6:15 am)
    • School closures
  4. Check the school website for bus or school cancellations. Listen to the radio or check the internet:
  5. Walk with your kids to the bus stop. Wait to make sure that they will not be stranded. Buses are late during bad weather. Drive them to school if possible. They should not be out in the cold for a long time.
  6. Check the Windchill Hazards table.

Know school policies

  1. Manitoba schools do not cancel classes in winter. But bus service is cancelled when the wind chill reaches -45 °C. Buses will not come back in the afternoon even if the weather improves.
  2. Schools outside Winnipeg have different polices on cancellations. Know where to get announcements and the person to call for information.
  3. Some schools call parents when classes are cancelled for the day. Most schools will call you when your child is not in school and you did not tell them ahead of time.
  4. Save the number of the school, school principal and the bus company on your mobile phone.

Make an emergency plan

  1. Make an emergency plan. Your children should know: where to go if the bus does not come or if it is late, and who will watch them if school is cancelled.
  2. Explain the plan to them. Make sure they understand it.
  3. You may need to:
    • give them a copy of the house keys
    • arrange for another place to go and a person to ask help from. You can ask a neighbour.
    • arrange for child care
  4. Give older kids a mobile phone. Teach them to use it only for emergencies.

Make sure that they are dressed warmly

  1. Their clothes should be thick enough. They should wear enough layers. It will keep them warm and protect them from frostbite.
  2. They should wear a winter jacket, ski pants, gloves, hat and snow boots. Add a scarf or mask (or balaclava) when there is blowing snow.
  3. Pack extra gloves in their bag just in case.
  4. Watch out for choking hazards like scarves and hood strings for smaller kids. Choose clothes or shoes that are fastened with Velcro.
  5. They will need extra protection when waiting for the bus or walking to their school building.

Decide what is best for your children

  1. Tell them to stay home even if school is not cancelled. This is the best decision if they will not have a safe way to get to school or come home after. Their safety is more important than missing a day of school.
  2. Call the school to say that they will be absent.
  3. Make sure that another adult will be at home to watch younger kids if you or your spouse cannot be at home.

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Community Resources

Here is a map with links to all Manitoba School Divisions and Districts. You can also check the Schools in Manitoba Search website.

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