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Winter Wonderland of Safety Tips

Here are some tips on how you can help kids have fun with Frosty while also keeping them safe.

Wild Winter Sports continued...

"The two most common injuries are limb injury, either a bruise or a fracture, and head injury," says Judelsohn. "So it is very important for any sport, in particular outdoor sports, that proper protective gear be used. As a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, we strongly recommend head gear for any sport that can cause a head injury, like skiing, snowboarding, hockey, or even sledding and tobogganing."

Another important item on the checklist is to check your child's equipment and know your child's skill level. "Make sure your children's equipment is appropriate for their size and their level of skill, and make sure it's functioning properly," Judelsohn says.

"One of the biggest factors is to know your child's limitations. "For example, a 9 year old shouldn't be playing physical checking hockey with 14 year olds; and on the slopes, if your child is a novice, don't take them to most difficult hill."

Driving Safety

When the roads are slick with ice and snow, driving can become treacherous. Here are some tips that will keep you and your kids safe on the roads this winter:

Pack an emergency kit. The American Automobile Association web site recommends you stock your car with an emergency kit that contains:

  • A flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • A bag of sand or salt (to provide traction in case the car gets stuck in the snow)
  • A shovel
  • Warning devices (such as flares, blankets, or ice scrapers)
  • A fully charged cell phone

"As good as cars are today, they can still break down, so keep warm clothes and an emergency kit in the car, and most importantly, especially for young drivers who think they're strong and athletic and can walk a couple of miles for help in the winter, that's a mistake--the safest place to be is in the car," says John Paul, spokesman and Car Doctor for the American Automobile Association.

Teach young drivers winter safety skills. Adults can have difficulties driving during bad weather, so young drivers are especially at risk. Teach your kids who are new behind the wheel how to handle the ice and snow.

"It's all about practice and getting experience," says Paul. "Take a young driver out to an empty parking lot and slide around in the snow a little so they can experience what it feels like, how to avoid it, and how to correct it."

Also caution your teens that drive to slow it down on slick roads -- even if they're driving a sport utility vehicle (SUV). "On a snowy day, even though the speed limit is 40 or 50, you need to cut that speed in half and double the distance between you and the cars around you," says Paul. "SUV and all-wheel drive cars give people a false sense of confidence, especially new drivers. The SUV will get you up the hill better than rear-wheel or front-wheel drive, but it's nothing more than a 5,000 pound toboggan going down it; it won't improve breaking, and when people drive too fast in an SUV because they think they can, they skid just like any other car."

Also Paul encourages adults to be especially mindful in winter when driving with small children. "Parents will bundle their children in snow suits and then put them in a child passenger safety seat, and this takes away from the protection that is offered because the belts may not fit them properly with the added layers," he explains. "What you want to do is keep them in their regular clothes, buckle them in, and put their coats over them so they stay warm."

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