From sledding and ice skating to cross country skiing and snowboarding, winter months in Michigan and Wisconsin offer children and families a variety of outdoor activities.
Cold weather doesn't mean children and families need to stay inside.
Don't confuse this to mean that area residents should go outdoors if there are wind chill advisories. In those conditions, no one should go outside unless it is necessary.
Still, during normal winter weather, area residents should enjoy the winter. After all, it is January and this is the Upper Peninsula.
Still, parents should take extra precautions to keep their children safe with frigid temperatures and winter sports.
Health and safety experts encourage protection and preparation when enjoying the outdoors has to offer this season.
- Children should never ice skate, ski, sled, snowmobile or snowboard alone.
- Parents should encourage helmet use to prevent possible head injury and always supervise activity.
- Set time limits on outdoor play and request children come inside periodically to warm up.
- Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
- Advise your child to skate in the same direction as the crowd, avoid darting across the ice and to never skate alone.
- Children should be supervised while sledding.
- Do not allow sledding near cars and avoid sledding in crowded areas.
- Keep young children separated from older children.
- Do not use snow disks or inner tubes.
- Sled feet first or sitting up to prevent head injuries.
- Choose sledding areas that are:
*Free of obstructions like trees or fences.
*Covered in snow not ice.
*Not be too steep and end with a flat runoff.
Skiing and Snowboarding
- Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
- Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted annually.
- Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.
- Choose slopes that fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder.
- Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.
- Children under age seven should not snowboard.
- Children under age 16 should not operate a snowmobile and children under age six should not ride on snowmobiles.
- Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
- Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles.
- Travel at safe speeds.
- Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.
Problems arise when infants and children are not dressed properly. They should be dressed in several thin layers to say warm and dry. Adequate outdoor clothing includes thermal long johns, turtlenecks, at least one shirt, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.
Hypothermia develops when a child's temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when children are playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet.
As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Their speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline.
What to do
Call 911 if you suspect your child is hypothermic. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and wrap them in blankets or warm clothes.