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Winter Safety and Injury Prevention Guidelines

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 17-Dec-2007

Winter can be a healthy and enjoyable season for kids and adults, alike.  It can also be a dangerous season.  According to experts at Children’s Hospital Boston:

  • "In 2004, nearly 12,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries.
  • In 2004, nearly 1,500 children ages 14 and under were treated for snowmobile-related injuries.
  • In 2004, nearly 11,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for snow skiing-related injuries and nearly 21,000 for snowboarding-related injuries."

    To help avoid injuries this winter, and to safeguard children’s health and safety, Children’s Hospital Boston offers the following basic winter safety tips:

  • "Dress smart:

    • Dress your child in several warm layers of clothes.
    • Pay attention to the National Weather Service’s winter weather advisories regarding wind chill and rain. If it is damp or windy outside, hypothermia – which occurs when body temperature drops drastically below normal – can occur in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees.
    • Set reasonable time limits on how long your children can play outdoors. Base these limits on weather conditions.
    • Dress your children in bright colors if they are playing or walking outdoors in snowy conditions.

    Keep infants inside if it is colder than 40 degrees. Babies lose body heat faster than children and adults.

    Use Caution Near Ice:

    Although it’s tempting for kids to play or skate on a frozen pond, it’s important that they never go on or near frozen water unless they have an adult’s approval.

    • Have an adult supervise children when they play near frozen lakes or ponds.
    • Only allow children to venture out or skate on lakes and ponds that have been approved for skating. Look for signs posted by the police or recreation department saying that the ice is safe.
    • Never assume that the ice on a frozen pond or lake will hold even a child’s weight. Even if the ice is strong in one area, it might be unsafe in another spot Avoid dark ice or honeycombed ice (ice that has air bubbles or snow crystals trapped in it), which is weaker and may break under a child’s weight. Ice on moving water, such as rivers and streams, is never safe.    

    Keep Clear of Snowblowers:      

    • Teach children that only adults should use snowblowers. Children can become seriously injured or killed by being caught in snowblowing machines.
    • Never try to clear snow or debris from the machine while it is still running. Always stop the engine first.
    • Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area. Carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving the engine running in an area such as a garage can cause deaths. 

    Sled Safely:      

    Sledding is a great way to have fun in the snow, but being careful is essential. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 46,000 sledding injuries are seen in hospital emergency rooms every year. Most are children under the age of 15 with head injuries.

    • Choose a hill for your children to sled on that is away from trees, rocks and other obstacles.
    • Make sure there is no street traffic or frozen water anywhere near the bottom of the sledding hill – a sled may not always come to a stop exactly where you want it to.
    • Check your child’s sled to make sure it is in good condition with secure handholds and steering that works.
    • Tell your child to never ride on a sled that is being pulled by a car or snowmobile.
    • Remind your child to always sled while sitting up with his feet forward. Lying on a sled increases the chance of head injuries.
    • Have your child wear a helmet while sledding.      

    Prevent Winter Sports Injuries:      

    • Children should wear helmets and eye protection while skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.
    • Make sure your child’s helmet is specifically designed for the activity he is participating in. Helmets should be well-fitted to prevent shifting or jostling of the helmet.
    • Make sure children know to stay on marked trails while skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling.
    • According to recommendations from the American Pediatric Association, children under 16 years old should never operate snowmobiles. Children younger than 5 should never ride on a snowmobile, even with an adult."

    Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

    For information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-759-6699. 

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