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How to Keep Your Family Safe in the Winter Weather

Winter activities are a great way to keep the whole family healthy, but injuries can spoil the fun. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you prepare for outdoor play.

Staying warm

  • Watch the weather: a good rule of thumb is to keep your family inside if the weather or wind chill drops below -25°C.
  • Focus on keeping vulnerable areas warm, including the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.
  • Enjoying lots of warm drinks is the best way to help your body maintain its temperature. However, if there isn’t any hot chocolate or tea available, water is the best alternative. 
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold to give your body the chance to warm up again. This is a great time to double-check that everyone still has dry clothes.

What to wear

  • To prevent frostbite, wear clothes with tightly-woven fibers like wool. These work to trap warm air around your body. 
  • Layer up. Layers are much more effective at keeping in body heat than a single heavy garment. We recommend a loose and absorbent layer next to the skin, a warmer middle layer, and a water-resistant outer layer. 
  • To keep your feet warm, wear a single pair of socks made from wool or a wool blend. Cotton loses all insulation when wet, and extra-thick socks or multiple layers can cause cold feet by limiting blood flow and air circulation
  • Make sure that everyone has boots that are dry and fit correctly, and always remember to zip up your jacket.

Ice safety

  • Avoid water banks, especially as weather begins to warm up in the spring. However, beware quick thaws that can weaken the ice surface throughout the winter.
  • The colour of ice often indicates its strength. Clear blue ice is the strongest, followed by white opaque or snow ice. This ice is about half as strong, as it’s formed by wet snow freezing on ice. Grey ice is unsafe, as it indicates the presence of water. 
  • If you’re looking to skate with a group, ensure that ice is a minimum of 20 cm thick.

It’s essential that Canadians stay active this winter and going outside with your family is a great way to get moving. Be sure to follow these guidelines to keep outdoor play fun and safe.

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