Extreme Cold and Winter Weather

Winter weather can be dangerous in several ways. The dropping temperatures and wind chills can create climatic hazards. Not every type of winter hazard is applicable to every child, but understanding the basic risks and how to minimize them can help parents protect their children from the ravages of winter.

Please CLICK HERE for a cold weather guide from the CDC.

General Tips:

  • Dress in multiple layers to play outside, including extra layers for legs, feet and hands.
  • Always wear hats and gloves when playing outdoors in cold weather; the biggest proportions of body heat are lost through the head and hands.
  • Limit the amount of time spent playing outdoors to safe intervals, and bring children inside periodically to warm up.
  • Remove all wet clothing immediately and change to dry clothes if going back outdoors.
  • Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin to guard against burns from bright sunlight and snow glare.
  • Do not permit children to play outdoors in poor weather such as snowstorms, extreme cold or high winds.
  • Wear brightly colored outer clothing that is easily seen from a distance.
  • Do not dress children in winter wear with drawstrings - they can cut off circulation and make frostbite a greater threat, and loose drawstrings may present a strangulation hazard.
  • Teach children to avoid playing near snowplow areas.
  • Do not permit children to dig snow tunnels or forts that may collapse and bury them.
  • Avoid snowball fights that can lead to injuries from dangerous projectiles.
  • Keep roofs, gutters and awnings free from snow and icicle buildup that could collapse and injure a child. Similarly, do not permit children to pull icicles from the roof.
  • Teach children never to touch or lick exposed metal (fences, flagpoles, etc.) in winter.
  • Do not allow children to eat snow. It may contain pollutants, dirt, fecal matter or other contaminants, and the cold snow can chill a young child's body to dangerous levels.
  • Regularly de-ice or sand sidewalks, driveways, patios and other areas where children may play.

What is the best clothing for cold weather?

Adults and children should wear:

  • a hat
  • a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • water-resistant coat and shoes
  • several layers of loose-fitting clothing

What should I do if I get stranded in cold weather?

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
  • Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.

Helpful Websites:


*Information and links provided by the Center for Disease Control and ready.gov