Connecticut is fortunate to enjoy four distinct seasons, but each has its own dangers to children. As the winter takes off in earnest, parents and others with responsibility for kids need to keep in mind the particular hazards that accompany cold temperatures and slippery outdoor conditions.
According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, average winter snowfall varies from about 30 to 35 inches in coastal areas to about 50 inches in the Northwest Hills. The data provider Current Results also reveals just how serious Connecticut winters are based on long-term statistics:
- At 29 degrees, Hartford, Connecticut, ranks seventh in large U.S. cities for the lowest normal daily mean temperatures in December through February.
- At 125 days, Hartford ranks fifth in large U.S. cities for the most days each year below freezing.
- At 40.5 inches, Hartford ranks 11th in large U.S. cities for average yearly snowfall.
Safe Kids Connecticut, a consortium of organizations dedicated to keeping children in the state safe, has some tips for winter safety:
- During furnace and fireplace season, be sure to install adequate carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors, and check batteries often.
- Keep space heaters far away from flammable household items like curtains and from play areas, and never leave children alone with space heaters. Better yet, don't use them at all.
- Take care operating wood-burning fireplaces: use adequate screens, open flues, burn only dry wood and supervise nearby children.
- When kids play outside, be sure they are adequately dressed for the temperature, and that their hands and ears are protected from frostbite.
- Don't let children play outside too long in cold weather; be aware of the temperature and wind chill.
- Watch for shivering as a sign of cold kids.
Some other common-sense winter safety tips include:
- Be sure your kids have adequate training, equipment and supervision when participating in potentially dangerous winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, hockey or skating.
- Use sunscreen.
- Remind children to wash their hands frequently during cold and flu season.
- Unless they are on private property, snowmobile drivers must be over 16 and licensed. Keep snowmobiles maintained and in good repair. Require proper helmets, clothing and eye protection and don't let small children ride as passengers.
- Keep kids off ice-covered lakes and ponds unless you are absolutely certain the ice is safely thick enough; supervise children and teens playing on ice.
- Don't let children play in or on snow banks created by snow plows. Plows may return unexpectedly and the drivers may not be able to see small kids.
- Take children to emergency rooms right away if you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, or for winter-sports injuries. Call 9-1-1 in an emergency.