Winter Sports Safety 101: How to Keep Your Child Warm and Injury-Free in Cold Weather

Most kids that play a team sport continue to practice over the winter season. Your child may join friends for a friendly game of football over winter break or decide to continue playing in an Austin indoor soccer league in the off-season.

When your child is active in cold weather, it helps to understand the basics of cold weather sports safety, starting with:

  • Children should always wear the proper safety gear for each sport.
  • Children should be required to wear helmets in a potentially dangerous winter sport, like skiing, snowboarding, or sledding.
  • Children should wear layers of warm clothing.
  • Children should stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking water before, during, and after activity.

Even though it may be easy to overlook, your child is still at risk for a sunburn when playing sports in cold weather. Snow can reflect up to 75% of the damaging UV rays of the sun. Make sure to always apply sunscreen on all exposed skin before your child goes out to play at the park or in another sports activity.

To protect your child from the elements, the warm clothing that they wear does matter. Although it may be tempting to wrap your child up in heavy winter wear to keep them as cozy as possible, consider the fact that their internal temperature will rise quickly when running and playing with friends in the snow.

This is precisely why it’s critical to wear layers of warm clothing that can be taken off one-by-one if a child starts to sweat from activity. Remember, sweat can freeze on the body and cause a child to become even colder when playing outside. If possible, send your child out to play a winter sport wearing wind and waterproof clothing; try to dress them in wool instead of cotton.

How to Prevent Hypothermia

If your child is playing a quick game of outdoor soccer with friends in the snow, hypothermia could be a legitimate concern. Hypothermia is likely to develop if a child’s temperature falls lower than normal after they are exposed to cold temperatures.

This can easily occur if a young child is playing outside in cold weather without wearing warm layers, or if they get wet while playing with friends. As a word of warning, hypothermia is more likely to occur in a child than in an adult.

Parents and coaches can do their part by watching for early signs of hypothermia in children. If a child has hypothermia, they may become lethargic and start to shiver. As hypothermia progresses, a child may slur their speech and could have low body temperature to the touch. If a child has hypothermia, it’s important to call 911 as soon as possible.

The good news is that by taking proper precautions, you can prepare your child for the elements so that they can enjoy outdoor activities in the winter season. Practicing the basics of safety and dressing for the weather will keep your child healthy and injury free all winter long!