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Temperature and weather. Children should not play outdoors if the temperature or the wind chill factor falls below -25°C (-13°F). When it is this cold outside, exposed skin can freeze in a few minutes.

Always check the weather before going out into the cold. Just because it is mild in the morning doesn’t mean the afternoon will be the same. Even mild temperatures have their own danger: your child may get wet because of melting ice and snow, and ice surfaces may break more easily.

Clothing. All winter activities require layers of warm, dry cold-weather clothing.

Dress in three layers:

  1. Thin moisture-wicking materials such as polyester should be next to the skin.
  2. Next is a middle insulating layer of wool or fleece.
  3. An outer water- and wind-proof layer made of nylon or Gore-Tex.

Layers should go back on during rest to stay warm. Include a hat, mitts, a tube scarf and waterproof boots.

Stay hydrated, take breaks and use sunscree​​n. Always make sure children drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature. If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water. It is easy to get dehydrated in the cold, often without noticing.

Take frequent breaks from the cold to let the body warm up.

Use sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

Skating. Skates should give good ankle support and fit snuggly. Skate blades should not be dull or rusted.

All skaters should wear safety-approved hockey helmets. In Canada, a helmet should have “CSA” stamped on it. Helmets should be replaced every five years.

Children should never skate alone and should always skate in safe areas, away from traffic and free of obstacles.

Sledding and tobogganing. Before your child toboggans or sleds down a hill, make sure that it is safe. The hill should be free of trees, rocks, bumps, and fences. Also check to make sure there are no patches of ice on the hill. Make sure there is lots of room to stop at the bottom of the hill, and ensure that there are not too many toboganners on the hill, as it can make the activity unsafe.

Young children should always be supervised by an adult. They should never toboggan alone and should not toboggan at night.

A ski helmet is recommended, because they are designed for use in cold weather and for similar falls and speeds.

Key points 

  • Check the weather forecast before going out for a day’s activity.
  • Dress appropriately for the temperature and the activity you will be doing.
  • Use well-maintained, well-fitting equipment, including the appropriate safety helmet for your activity.
  • Keep activities suited to children’s age and abilities and stay alert for hazards.