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5 Hidden Winter Dangers for Kids and Babies

Photograph by Twenty20

When parents think about outdoor safety during the winter and how to keep their sweet little ones from harm, the obvious dangers that jump to mind are hypothermia and frostbite. However, there are other aspects of outdoor play that can put your child at risk. Read on to prepare for snowy days ahead.

1. Sunburn

Ah, sunscreen—a summer ointment buried somewhere at the bottom of your beach bag in the closet. It’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen to your little ones when it’s cold outside and even though temperatures may be cold and your child’s body is mostly covered, any exposed skin should be protected with sunscreen. White snow reflects sunlight upward, which can maximize UV exposure.

2. Dehydration

Make sure to push the fluids when your kids come inside from playing just as you would on a hot summer day. Your child may not be interested in drinking or claim not to feel thirsty. This is because cold weather diminishes the body’s thirst response by up to 40 percent. When a child is on the border of hypothermia, urine production increases as well, which can further contribute to extreme dehydration.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Kid is Dehydrated

3. Eye Injuries

In Jon Krakauer’s book "Into Thin Air," which chronicles a disastrous Everest ascent, one of the parts that makes most readers cringe is when one of the climbers describes accidentally rubbing ice crystals into his eye. A snowball fight or snow falling from trees can easily put snow or other particulates in the eye. If obstructions of any kind—ice or otherwise—enter the eye, a child is likely to rub it with their gloved hand, worsening the condition. Dry eyes, common in winter, can exacerbate the problem. Be sure to instruct kids to come inside if they think they have something in their eye instead of trying to rub it away, especially with a snowy mitten.

Though winter may seem like a season to wind down and snuggle in, there is still cause to be wary when our little ones are going out in cold weather.

4. Big Coats in the Car Seat

When it’s cold, a good parent’s first instinct is to bundle up your little ones, sometimes to the point of poor Ralphie in "A Christmas Story." However, car seats and puffy coats do not mix! Winter weather gear can cause car seat straps to be too loose to effectively protect your child in the event of a collision. If you have a walk to the car, try starting it up first, and then hustling your little one out in a blanket, with their hat and mittens already on. Strap them in, and then quickly tuck the blanket around them. Don’t forget to bring their coat along for when you arrive!

RELATED: 8 New Ways to Play in the Snow

5. Road Safety

Of course we teach our children to stay out of the street. But what happens when the cars won’t stay on the road? That is a very real possibility in snowy or icy weather. Sure, a school snow day might seem like the perfect time to send the kids out to play. However, if you live near a street or road, it may not be safe for the kids even in the comfort of your own yard. A car could lose control, hop the curb and cause a tragedy. Be sure to instruct your children to stay far away from snow plows and snow blowers, too. The safest place to play? A fenced-in backyard or a park big enough to provide lots of space away from streets and parking lots.

Though winter may seem like a season to wind down and snuggle in, there is still cause to be wary when our little ones are going out in cold weather. Keep these reminders handy for a safe and joyful winter season.

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