Safety Tips for Weathering the Long Winter Months
a guest post by Carson Gaffney, a Program Associate at Kids In Danger (KID), a nonprofit dedicated to keeping children safe by improving children’s product safety.
Many of us are ready for winter to be over, but the groundhog saw his shadow — plenty of cold weather days lie ahead. Wearing lots of extra layers and spending time outside in the cold and snow are certainly part of the season, but they can present a unique host of safety risks. Stay prepared with these tips:
- Drawstrings: Drawstrings found in winter coats, sweatshirts and other clothing items pose a strangulation hazard for children, and they can dangerously catch onto other items. Avoid this hazard by pulling or cutting drawstrings out of children’s clothing.
- Overheating: At KID, our motto is: #BareIsBest. Don’t overwrap baby or use thick blankets or soft bedding in the crib. Overheating has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and any extra objects in the crib, especially extra bedding, can pose a suffocation risk. Instead, use wearable blankets or sleep sacks to keep baby comfortable.
- Car seats: Heavy coats, thick sweaters, snowsuits, and other bulky winter clothing create too much space between a child’s body and the car seat harness, creating the risk of a child slipping through the straps, or not being secured adequately in a crash. There are many steps you can take to avoid this risk:
- Instead of a heavy coat, dress children with close-fitting layers, such as long underwear and long-sleeved bodysuits. Hats, mittens, socks, and booties can all keep your infant warm without interfering with the car seat.
- You can use a coat or blanket over the straps. The takeaway: nothing should go underneath your child’s body or between their body and the harness straps.
- Follow the pinch test: if you can pinch the straps of the car seat straps, then it should be tightened.
- Snow sport safety: If your child goes sledding, check that hills aren’t too steep or have obstructions (like trees), and make sure the hill is covered in snow rather than ice. Always supervise any snow sport activity, and check that equipment is safe and has not been recalled using CPSC.gov.
- Year-round water safety: Even though outdoor pools are closed, indoor pools, baths, and spas still pose a safety hazard. Ensure any pools and spas have compliant drain covers, and most importantly, do not leave a child unattended in or near water. Visit poolsafely.gov for detailed information on year-round water safety.