[Skip to Content]

How to Be Safe in Ice and Snow

Medically reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD

Winter is a fun time of year for outdoor play. Here's how to stay safe while you enjoy the ice and snow.

What Should I Wear to Play in Cold Weather?

  • Dress in layers. Layers keep you toasty and you can peel them off, one at a time, as you start to heat up. Here’s one way to dress in layers:
    • On top: Start with a long-sleeved undershirt, then add a turtleneck or one or two shirts, and a sweater. Top these off with a coat (if you do take off some layers, be sure to put your coat back on!).
    • On the bottom: Put on long underwear and then a pair of heavy pants (like waterproof ski pants, if you have them).
  • Keep your head warm. Wear a hat to stop body heat from escaping out the top. A scarf, facemask, and earmuffs are also great options to keep you warm and comfortable.
  • Protect your hands. Waterproof mittens or gloves are best for playing in the snow. The goal is to keep your hands warm and dry, protected from the cold.
  • Remember your feet. Heavy socks and waterproof boots will help keep your toes cozy. Boots with good treads make it easier to walk on the snow and ice.

How Can I Stay Hydrated in Cold Weather?

When you're outside in the cold and breathing hard, you lose a lot of your body's water through your breath. Drink plenty of liquids to make up for the water you lose. Warm drinks and soups are the perfect choice. They keep you hydrated and warm up your insides.

When Is It Time to Take a Break?

It’s time to go inside and warm up if:

  • You’re shivering or your teeth are chattering.
  • You feel dizzy or weak.

Look out for your friends and siblings too. If someone shows signs of being too cold, go inside together. By the time you have a warm drink, eat a snack, and play a game or watch a show, you’ll be ready to head back outside for more fun.

What Are Frost Nip and Frostbite?

Sometimes, when kids play out in the cold for a while, they might realize they can't feel their fingers, toes, cheeks, ears, or nose. When these body parts get numb, tingly, or red, it’s called frost nip. It's a warning that frostbite is coming, and it’s time to take a break indoors to warm up.

Frostbite is when skin gets very cold and freezes. Sensitive or exposed parts of the body, like the face, ears, fingers, or toes can get frostbitten most easily. If a kid gets frostbite, their skin feels hard and numb, and looks pale. If you think even for a second that you might have frostbite, go indoors and tell an adult right away.

Here are some tips to help you avoid frostbite:

  • Wear the right clothes.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Take regular breaks indoors.
  • If you see signs of frost nip, get out of the cold right away.

Keeping safe in the winter is easy to do, now that you know how. Enjoy your snow day!

Medically reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: February 2024