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Winter Safety

Being safe is cool this winter! Follow these tips to help protect yourself and your children:


Ice Safety

  • Test the thickness of ice before venturing out on it . Ice must be at least 10 cm or 4 inches for walking or skating alone, 20 cm or 8 inches for skating parties and/or games and 25 cm or 10 inches before it is safe for snowmobiles.


Wear a Helmet

  • Always wear an approved helmet when participating in activities such as downhill skiing, sledding, snowboarding, skating or playing hockey. Look for the CSA, SNELL, ATSM or EN stamp of approval.
  • Replace your helmet if it has been damaged or is 5 years old.
  • Parents should set a good example by wearing helmets too!


When cold is too cold

  • Children should play indoors if the temperature falls below -25C (-13F), regardless of the wind chill factor.
  • Children should play indoors, regardless of the temperature, if the wind chill factor is reported as -28 C (-15F) or greater (This is the temperature at which exposed skin freezes in a few minutes).


Watch the Kids

  • Keep children away from ponds, lakes, streams and rivers during the spring thaw.


  • Check from time to time to make sure children are warm and dry. Have younger children take frequent breaks to come inside for a warm drink.
  • Tell children not to put their tongues on cold metal. It sounds silly, but some kids still do it.
  • Advise children to stay away from snowplows and snowblowers. Help children choose play areas with a warm shelter nearby such as a friend’s home.


  • When you build a snow fort, it should not be in a snowbank near the road.
  • Children should be supervised when playing outside. Establish a buddy system with one or more of their friends and have them look out for one another. Children younger than eight years of age should always be well supervised.

Be Sun Safe

  • Even in winter, you can still get a sun burn. Reduce sun exposure when the sun is highest in the sky.
  • Find shade, or create your own shade.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat or toque and sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.
  • Wear sunscreen with minimum SPF #15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection (higher for individuals spending extended periods of time out of doors).


Air Quality Health Index

  • The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a scale which provides information on outdoor air pollution and the related short term health risks. The AQHI will help Nova Scotians protect both their health and the environment by encouraging them to be informed, adjust their activity level during days of increased air pollution, and take action to reduce their personal contributions to air pollution.


Drink up, and make a toast to Winter!

What is Dehydration?

  • Dehydration occurs when the body doesn’t have enough water.
  • Although most of us associate the risk of dehydration with warm weather, the risk is present during winter months as well.
  • When you “see your breath” in cold weather, you’re actually seeing water vapor (water) escaping your body. The dryer and colder the air, the more water you will lose through breathing and sweating.

How to Stay Hydrated

  • Start your activity well hydrated and continue to sip as you walk, ski, snowshoe, or skate. Thirst is not actually a good indicator of your body’s need for water as it is a delayed response. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty!
  • If you experience headache and/or fatigue, you may already be at a water deficit.
  • Take a break and drink water, juice, or milk. Remember that drinks like coffee and non-herbal tea are diuretics and can actually contribute to your fluid loss.

How to Store your Drink

  • Winter temperatures may cause your water bottles to freeze up. Try keeping it in an inside pocket, or in a backpack close to your back to prevent freezing. Wide mouth bottles resist freezing up a bit better than others.
  • You can also carry a thermos with warm liquid, like herbal tea or apple cider.
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