Your guide to dressing your kids for winter

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Winter can be an exciting time for your kids, especially if it’s their first time to see snow. But according to the Caring for Kids website, young children generate less body heat, and get cold more quickly than adults. This is why appropriate clothing is important, especially when they are playing outside. Let them enjoy wintertime activities with the following tips:

Dressing up based on the temp

  1. Not below -27°C – Manitoba winters can be brutal with temperatures of -30°C (-22°F) or lower. Always check the weather before letting them go outdoors. As long as the temperature or the windchill is not below -27°C, then it is ok for them to play outside.
  2. Layering – An important approach to winter dressing is layering as it can keep your kids warmer and dryer than one heavy outfit. But don’t use too many layers since they can get overheated and sweat (which could make them feel colder when they stop playing). Older babies and children need one more layer of clothing than you do.
  3. For 0 to 10°C – When the temperature is 0 to 10°C, it will be better to dress your child in pants, shirt, socks, coat, boots and mittens. Mittens are better to use than gloves because it allows fingers to bunch together for warmth. Make sure as much skin is covered as possible.
  4. Below 0°C – For temperatures below 0°C, dress your child in thermal underwear. On top, they should wear a shirt, socks, pants, a sweater. They should also have a winter coat and ski pants or snowsuit on, as well as boots, mittens, a neck warmer and hat. Make sure that their boots are waterproof and are roomy enough for an extra pair of socks and to wiggle toes.
  5. Safe clothes – Check the pieces of clothing for strings, or scarves that could be choking hazards (especially for babies). Use mitten clips instead of strings to keep your kids from losing them.
  6. Bright colors – Dress you child in bright colors so that drivers can see them clearly.

Frostbite

  1. This affects cheeks, fingers, toes, ears, and noses when they are not properly covered. The skin freezes and you see it red and swollen. Kids will feel a stinging and burning sensation.
  2. Frostbite can be caused by cold wind, rain, or snow. If it is not addressed immediately, the skin can turn, grey, pale and blistered.
  3. If your child complains of numbness or pain in their hands, feet or elsewhere, begin to warm that area with your hands, but be careful not to rub the skin if it is frostbitten. Get the child indoors.
  4. Use warm (not hot) washcloths or water to slowly warm the skin. Dry the areas where you applied the washcloths and give your child a warm drink.
  5. Call your doctor for treatment if the numbness lasts for more than a few minutes.

Hypothermia

  1. This can happen if your child is outside for a long time and gets wet. A child can get hypothermia even in warmer weather, like 10°C, especially if it is rainy and windy.
  2. Hypothermia can set in when your child’s body temperature drops below the normal 37°C (98.6°F). The child can shiver badly, slur their speech or become clumsy.
  3. When this happens, call 911. You should get your child indoors and remove any wet clothing.
  4. Wrap the child in warm blankets.

Kids should not play outside alone. Children eight years and below should be supervised and checked every so often to see if they are warm and dry. You should set breaks and ask them to come inside for a warm drink to break up continuous exposure to the cold.

Don’t forget protective gear if they are tobogganing, sledding, skating or playing hockey. This means helmets, shin pads, and the right sports equipment. Read Sports gear safety tips from the Healthy Canadians.gc site. Always make sure that they are accompanied by a friend or adult who knows the sport or game, as well as the proper conditions for playing. You or your older child may not be familiar with usual risks in snow or icy conditions.

Sources: CMAS Canada brochure on Dressing for Winter and Caring for Kids, Winter safety: Advice to parents and kids.

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Community Resources

The Manitoba.ca site has suggestions and tips for Family Fall and Winter activities as well as safety precautions for parents and kids.

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Quiz

Your guide to dressing your kids for winter

Select the best definition for each word as used in the article above.

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