Winter is here, and with it the rain, snow and
ice. Keep your family safe and warm with these
You can download this article as a PDF (English, Spanish).
- Tell everyone in your home to wash their
hands often, especially if they or other family
members have a cold or the flu.
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping area
and on each level of your home. Test smoke
alarms once a month, and change batteries
at least once a year. A good time to change
batteries is when you change your clocks in
fall and spring.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in every
sleeping area. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas
that you cannot see or smell. It is produced
by many appliances, such as furnaces, dryers,
ranges, ovens and heaters. When appliances
work right, they vent CO to the outside. If
they break, they can leak CO into your home.
Breathing CO can cause death. At first, a
person with CO poisoning feels dizzy and sick
to their stomach. A carbon monoxide alarm
will go off so there is time to leave your house
before you feel sick.
- Give space heaters space. Keep them at least
three feet away from walls, furniture, curtains,
bedding and clothing. Children and pets
should not play around heaters, fireplaces or
- If you use kerosene heaters, use only kerosene
for fuel – never use gasoline.
- Add fuel outdoors and only when the heater
is cool. Always keep a window slightly open
when the heater is running.
- If you use a fireplace or wood stove, have
your chimney checked and cleaned by a
professional once a year. Use a fireplace screen, and burn only untreated wood. Make
sure your wood stove has a fireproof stove
board under it to protect the floor from heat.
Protection for the Outdoors
- Children get cold faster than adults. Dress
your child in layers to protect them against
the cold. Begin with a bottom layer made of
nylon or silk that will wick away moisture
(avoid cotton). Make sure they wear a warm
hat, mittens or gloves, a scarf, socks and
nonskid boots. Choose bright colors so
drivers can see them better.
- Give your child a snack before going
outdoors. It gives them energy. Bring them
indoors for breaks about once an hour to
warm up and drink fluids.
- Protect your child’s eyes from harmful
sun rays with goggles or sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen and lip balm to protect your
child from sunburn.
- Remember: Children lose body heat quickly,
especially very young children. Check on your
child often when they are playing outdoors.
Replace wet clothes with ones that are warm
and dry. If you see white patches of skin on
their hands, feet or face, bring them indoors
right away. This is the first sign of frostbite.
Call your doctor right away.
Winter Play and Sports
- Insist that your child wear a properly
fitting snow sport helmet while skiing,
snowboarding and sledding. Snowboarders
need wrist guards in addition to helmets. Be a
good role model by wearing your helmet, too.
- Make sure an adult is with children who are
sledding. Keep sledders away from trees,
rocks, fences and cars. Check sleds for jagged,
sharp edges. Teach your child how to roll off
the sled and how to stop the sled if they need
to get off quickly. Also teach them to sled
sitting up with their feet in front.
- Never hook a sled to a car or any other
vehicle. Never pull your child on skis or a
snowboard behind a vehicle.
- Children who ski or snowboard are safer and
have more fun if they take a lesson from a
- Make sure ski and snowboard equipment is
the right size and is adjusted properly.
- Teach your child to ski and snowboard within
the boundaries of the ski area.
- If your family spends time in the backcountry,
take an avalanche safety course and
always carry avalanche gear while in the
backcountry. Never be in the backcountry
alone – it’s safer to be with a group.
- Know how to operate a snowmobile before
going snowmobiling with your child. Start
with a full tank of gas. Have all riders wear
protective gear, including helmets with
chinstraps. Be alert to other snowmobiles.
Avoid unsafe areas like thin ice and steep,
avalanche-prone slopes. It is a good idea to
snowmobile in groups.
- Make an emergency kit for home. Include
extra blankets and clothing, flashlights,
batteries, matches, a first aid kit, a can opener,
jugs of water, medicines and canned food and
other foods that do not need refrigeration.
- Prepare a kit for your car that includes flares,
tire chains, a flashlight, a scraper, water and
food (like energy bars), a first aid kit, blankets
- Be sure that you have a way to heat your
home or a place to go in case the power goes
out. Always keep a fire extinguisher near
your heating source. Never use your cooking
stove or range to heat your home. Do not use
a charcoal grill, hibachi or generator in your
home, either – they make carbon monoxide,
which is a poison.
To Learn More
Seattle Children’s will make this information available in alternate formats upon request. Call Marketing Communications at 206-987-5205 or 206-987-2280 (TTY).
This handout has been reviewed by clinical staff at Seattle Children’s. However, your child’s needs are unique. Before you act or rely upon this information, please talk with your child’s healthcare provider.
© 2003, 2008, 2009, 2013 Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, Washington. All rights reserved.