Safety Tips for Playing Outside in the Winter

Thursday, December 27, 2012

When it snows, most children have fun by engaging in snowball fights, sledding, building snowmen, and making snow angels. However, it is important for parents to prepare their children for the cold weather. Outside activities are wonderful as long as appropriate safety precautions are taken.

Nathan Timm, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says it’s important for children to stay active during the winter. Timm offers these tips for parents to keep their child safe, healthy and happy while playing outside this winter:

• Children should be dressed warmly. Mittens, gloves, hats and multiple thin layers will help keep them dry and warm.
• Children (and adults) can still get sunburned in the winter, especially if sun is reflecting off snow. Sun screen should be applied liberally to sun-exposed skin to help prevent sunburn.
• Set appropriate time limits. Depending on the temperature, parents should allow their child to play outside for 30-60 minutes, and then come back inside to get warmed up.

Frostbite and Frostnip
• Regularly check to make sure the child’s clothes are not wet. Children get much colder when wet.
• Make sure that the child is not having any signs of frostnip and or frostbite:
• Frostnip occurs when cold temperatures damage the skin and blood vessels. Frostnip usually affects the face, feet or fingertips and causes numbness and may turn skin white or blue-white.
• Frostbite is literally the freezing of the skin. The skin can feel waxy, frozen, and numb, and can cause blisters.

• When sledding, younger children should be kept in separate areas from older children and the following precautions should be taken:
• A child should sit or lie down feet first rather than head first to help reduce likelihood of head injury.
• Avoid sledding hills with trees or other obstructions.
• Sled only on hills covered in snow, not ice.
• A child should wear a helmet while sledding to prevent head injuries.

About Cincinnati Children’s
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for neonatology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at

Contact Information

Danielle Jones,, 513-636-9473