Central Mass. Health Alliance: Stay Safe During Vacation

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Proper clothing and equipment is important during winter activities.
Proper clothing and equipment is important during winter activities. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck (file)

WORCESTER, Mass. — The Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance is reminding parents and caretakers to incorporate safety into winter activities this February vacation.

“Safe outdoor play is important, especially in winter months when sunlight hours are reduced,” said Public Health Director Derek Brindisi. “We are encouraging parents to get their kids out of the house and moving, not only to absorb the much-needed Vitamin D provided by sunlight for proper bone health and growth, but to encourage outdoor activity on a more regular basis.”

The Alliance is offering the following tips:

Dress in Warm Layers

Wearing several layers of thin clothing is better than one thick layer. Wear layers of tops, pants and socks, in addition to hats, gloves or mittens and scarves. The body should be completely covered from head to foot. Warm winter boots are crucial and should provide traction and be waterproof.

Excessive Cold

Children should not be outdoors if the wind chill factor reaches 20 degrees below zero. Extreme cold can precipitate hypothermia or frostbite.

Take a Break

Kids need frequent "warm-up" breaks. Watch for signs of shivering. Talk to kids about letting you know if they feel any tingling or numbness. If a child feels excessively tired, he or she should go inside immediately. These are all potential signs of hypothermia or frostbite.

Sledding

Children should always be monitored by an adult. Sleds should be kept away from roads and vehicles. Children should sled feet first or sitting down to prevent head injuries. Steerable sleds are safer than inner tubes or disks. Sled in areas free from crowds, unobstructed by trees, rocks or fences. Avoid scarves or any clothing that can get caught in a sled and pose a risk of strangulation. Wear a helmet designed for winter sports, or at least a helmet used for biking or skateboarding.

Skating

Skate only on permitted surfaces. Watch for posted signs or inquire about approved surfaces with the local parks department. Never skate alone. Avoid eating or chewing gum while skating. Always skate in the same direction as the group and refrain from darting out in front of other skaters.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Kids should be trained to snowboard or ski by a qualified individual. Children should never snowboard or ski alone, and young children should always be monitored by an adult. Ski or snowboard only on slopes without obstructions. Proper safety equipment, including gloves, goggles, and helmets,  is crucial.

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