Staying Safe in Winter
Keeping Children Safe
The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting darker. It is very likely that at some point we will have ice and snow to contend with as well...
To keep children and staff safe in the colder months we need to:
Think about layers – make sure children are layered up. Speak to parents and ask them to start with a vest and then a t-shirt and then another layer on top so you can put on and take off layers through the day.
Remind parents that you take their child outside to play and learn every day and ask them to provide a winter coat their child can move around in - not one that makes them look like the Michelin man and restricts movement. Gloves in pockets – scarf down sleeve – hat in hood and they are never lost!
We ask our parents to send all children in thick tights – yes, the boys as well. We don’t want ‘taking off socks’ battles and we need to keep tiny toes warm on our wooden floors.
There are lots of hazards when considering children’s winter clothing – scarves and hood strings can strangle – gloves can tangle and hurt fingers – boots can be too tight and make feet sore – shoes can be slippery underneath and not give children purchase on ice and snow. Keep an eye on children’s winter clothing and let parents know if you have any concerns.
When travelling in the car it is important that snow suits and bulky coats are removed so that the harness straps hold children securely. Best practice advice is to pop a blanket over them that they can kick off when they are warm enough instead of bundling them up and risking them getting too hot when the car heats up. If you don’t have a blanket handy you can use a coat which they can quickly remove instead.
Think about what children are wearing during the colder weather at sleep time as well, especially if your children sleep outside through the year. Make sure they can kick off layers if they are getting too hot and check them regularly to ensure feet and hands are tucked in and warm. Experts advise that we should avoid quilts, pillows and sheepskins because they are associated with suffocation deaths.
Parents might find it useful if you share some safe sleeping and car seat safety information with them as the winter approaches.
Keep a close eye on the children when they are playing and learning in the colder weather – if they are not moving around very much or if they are starting to shiver, bring them inside and warm them up. Teach the children the difference between being warm enough and cold – talk to them about their hands or feet being cold and how we warm them up slowly so we don’t damage the skin.
You might find it useful to plan some winter themed activities which teach children about hot and cold, reminding them that the fires and radiators are hot this time of year and the floors might be cold.
Don’t forget to plan lots of active outside play so children stay warm and watch for symptoms of hypothermia such as shivering, lips going blue, slurred speech, clumsiness, lack of coordination or confusion. Some of our favourite active games are: obstacle courses, riding on the bikes and scooters, music and movement outside, jumping and skipping, bouncing up and down the hopscotch and going on a mitten hunt.
We find a hot chocolate or a cup of warm vegetable soup goes down well this time of year! The children love helping to make soup as well and we go to the shop to buy winter vegetables together.
We always crawl around the floor when the weather starts to turn colder and find any draughts. Young children cannot always tell us that they are sitting in a draught because they don’t know how to describe the chilly feeling that comes over them but you might observe that they are resistant to playing in a certain part of the house, often near or in the slipstream from an open or badly fitting door or window.
Practitioners need to think about staying warm as well and layer their clothes as well. We sometimes find that we dash about sorting the children and forget about ourselves by the time everyone is dressed and ready to go. I have a lovely winter coat which envelops me (the hood stays up in the wind and the sleeves are long), a fleecy hat and gloves and some quality waterproof winter boots – they were not cheap but they have lasted me a few years now and are worth every penny.
How do you keep warm and cosy in winter when playing outside every day?
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