With temperatures near freezing, you may be wondering what you need to know to keep your child safe for the rest of the winter season.

The Safe Kids DC team has a few helpful tips to keep the children in your life safe outside, in the car and at home this winter!

Playing outside in the cold

Check the weather before heading outside for play or travel. This helps your family prepare to be safely dressed to prevent cold weather injuries like frost bite and hypothermia.

During cold months dress warmly for outdoor play in several layers including an appropriate coat or jacket, hat, gloves, scarf (to cover face) and boots. For children who don’t tolerate hats, fleece headbands or earmuffs are great alternatives!

When playing outside, shivering is a danger sign! If you or your child starts shivering, go inside and warm up! Remember to come in every 30 minutes to an hour to get warm and conduct a mini check.

Winter Warm Up Checklist:

  • Check fingers and toes
  • Change wet clothes
  • Drink water

If you are participating in winter activities like skating or skiing, always wear appropriate safety gear to prevent injuries. Always remember to wear sunscreen outside, even during winter months as the sun can reflect off snow and ice and cause sunburn. You might want to consider a hat and sunglasses too!

Traveling in car during the cold

Wearing a thick coat in a car seat can make it very hard to buckle in snugly. A loose car seat harness means your child is at risk of serious injury during a crash. No bulky coats in car seats!

Instead, buckle your child in their clothes without the coat on to get a snug fit. Place a blanket over the seat or put their coat on backward, overtop of the fastened harness.

For children that use a wheelchair, keep extra blankets to use over their legs in the wheelchair or car seat as they can get colder quicker.

For more information on securing your child in a car seat safely in the winter, read this Consumer Reports article on the dangers of winter coats and car seats.

Cold weather safety at home

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is made when appliances burn fuel. CO poisoning occurs by breathing in this gas. The risk for CO poisoning is higher in the winter months because of closed windows and heating homes.

Activities that may seem harmless can raise the CO levels in our homes. It is important not to use an oven or stovetop to heat the house. Check vents for the dryer, furnace, fireplace and stove to make sure they are not blocked, including by snow. Generators, grills and other things that burn gas for fuel should stay outside of the home.

Check your home to ensure that you have a carbon monoxide detector. Detectors can be combined with smoke alarms or can be a separate device. Detectors should be on every floor and especially where people sleep. If there are children or family members in the home who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are carbon monoxide detectors with visual warnings.

If the alarm goes off, quickly leave your home as carbon monoxide can make you confused. Once outside, call 911. It is helpful to have a family meeting place to ensure everyone is the home is accounted for. Wait until emergency responders arrive.


Safe Kids Worldwide Safe Kids District of Columbia is a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries.

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