UH News

Use Your Head this Winter!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Remind Caregivers to Keep Kids Safe in the Winter Snow

Cleveland, OH – With winter snow blanketing most of Cleveland, many children will spend snow days and after school enjoying outdoor activities. While winter sports and activities are a great way to keep children entertained and active during the cold winter months, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, lead agency for Safe Kids Greater Cleveland, recognizes that these activities can also be dangerous. The good news is that injuries can be prevented if caregivers help their children by taking a few simple precautions.

“Winter safety starts with an understanding of how to stay warm in the cold Cleveland winters,” said Mandy Thomas, Rainbow’s Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Coordinator. “Children need to wear the proper clothing when they go outside. Dress your child in layers – warm close-fitting clothes, a hat, boots, gloves or mittens and a scarf or facemask.”

Just like during the spring sports season, caregivers need to encourage children to drink water before, during and after play in order to stay fully hydrated. Children also need to wear sunscreen on their exposed skin and proper safety gear while they are playing outside during the winter.

It is important that children are wearing sports-specific and properly fitted safety gear, especially helmets. Helmets reduce head injury risk by 53 for children participating in winter sports. UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital recommends children always wear properly fitted helmets when sledding, skiing, snowboarding or playing ice hockey.

“There are helmets designed specifically for skiing, snowboarding and hockey, but your child can wear a bicycle helmet for sledding,” said Thomas. “Make sure that helmet is properly fitted and well-maintained. A helmet should be replaced if it has been hit hard or involved in an impact. A tiny crack can reduce the effectiveness of protecting a child’s head from injury.”

A properly fitted helmet should not be too snug or too loose and needs to:

  • Cover the front of the forehead, back of the head and temples
  • Keep your field of vision clear
  • Allow you to hear clearly
  • Have an adjustable chin strap

Children learn their safety habits from watching adults. Caregivers should always wear helmets and follow the rules while sledding, skiing, snowboarding and playing hockey.

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