Baby It’s Cold Outside

December 17th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Kelly Bouxsein, Healthier Communities Administrator, CHI Health

Children_throwing_snowballs_BLD073923That may be true, but don’t let it keep the kids inside all winter! Kids need lots of active play time every day including time outside, even in the frigid winter. Outdoor play is not only when kids get the most physical activity, but also is an important learning environment where kids develop gross motor skills, creativity, imagination, and many social skills. So we need to make sure kids still get time to play outside, when it’s safe of course. As adults, the cold usually bothers us more than it bothers the kids – so grab your gloves and hat and don’t use that as an excuse not to get outside and play!

When it’s Safe to be Outside: 1

Make sure to check the weather before going outside. These guidelines can help you decide if it’s safe to be outside. Remember, kids should always be supervised and keep an eye out for signs of kids becoming tired, uncomfortable or cold.

  • If it is 40 degrees or warmer with a wind speed of no more than 15 miles per hour you have a green light – get outside!
  • If it is between 20 degrees with a wind speed of less than 5 miles per hour and 40 degrees with a wind speed or 20 mph or higher you have a yellow light. Get outside but make sure kids are bundled up and don’t stay out as long. 10-15 minutes is better than nothing!
  • If it is 20 degrees with a wind chill higher than 5 miles per hour or colder – best to stay inside (although older kids are usually safe for very short periods of time). Make sure to plan other ways to be active indoors!
  • Avoid going outside in extreme weather like snowstorms.

Adopted from the Iowa Department of Health – Child Care Weather Watch1


Cold Weather Tips:2,3

  • Never allow children to play outside alone. Establish a buddy system with one or more of their friends and have them look out for one another. Children younger than eight years of age should always be well supervised outside.
  • Children should dress in layers for warmth and wear boots, hats and mittens. You may need to give older kids firm reminders of this.
  • Check from time to time to make sure children are warm and dry. Watch for areas of bare skin on areas such as wrists, ankles, ears, fingers etc., that may become exposed during activities.
  • Mildly ill children, who are active, may also play outdoors. If children are too sick to play outdoors, they are probably too sick to go to child care or school too.
  • Help children choose play areas with a warm shelter nearby such as a friend’s home.
  • Advise children to play in an area away from roads, fences and water.
  • Tell children not to put their tongues on cold metal. It may sound silly, but some kids still do it.
  • Advise children to stay away from snowplows and snowblowers.
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, even when it’s cloudy.
  • Have younger children take frequent breaks to come inside for a warm drink. Infants and toddlers can’t tell caregivers when they are too cold, so it’s best to schedule shorter periods of outdoor play for this age group. Be sure to monitor their skin temperature to make sure they feel warm.
  • Older children can tolerate longer periods outdoors, but should be monitored to ensure that they do not remove their hat, mittens or coat while engaged in outdoor winter activities.

Remember, even a short walk can be beneficial especially on days when it is too cold for extended outdoor play.

Now you know when it’s safe to be outside – here are some fun ideas to get active outside. Think scavenger hunts, snow paint, and more…

Need to Stay Inside? We’ve Got ideas for you too!

For more details on safe play during the winter click here.




[2] file:///C:/Users/55736/Downloads/Weather%20Chart_CCAND.pdf


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