Today’s blog aims to offer tips and tools for maintaining health and safety during the holidays. We’ve included tips for watching out for your children, tricks to beat holiday stress and how to keep yourself protected from the elements – whether you’re celebrating the festive period in the blazing sun or in icier climes.
12 tips to keep your children safe
- Talk to your kids before a family outing. Make a rule that you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you.
- Use the ‘two giant steps’ rule – your kids can never be more than two giant steps away from you. It's a fun and easy way for young children to remember not to wander away.
- Teach your kids that if they ever become separated from you, they should look for a "safe stranger" for help. Some examples include a mom with kids or a cash register person. With older children, agree on a "meeting place" ahead of time, in case you’re separated.
- Tell your child never to leave the mall or store to go looking for you, no matter what anyone tells them. Remind your child that you would never leave until you are reunited.
- Dress your child in brightly coloured clothes to make him easy to spot.
- In busy places, such as airports or shopping malls, consider using a cute harness for toddlers who are prone to running off.
- Establish the ‘check first’ rule with older children. They must always check first with you before going anywhere in a public place.
- Don't treat public facilities as a ‘convenient babysitter’. Do not leave your children alone at video arcades, movie theatres, play areas, or other public places. Predators look for unsupervised kids.
- Always bring young children into the restroom with you. Look for well-lit restrooms in high traffic areas, whenever possible.
- Statistically, the men's room isn't the safest place for a child to use alone. If you feel comfortable letting your older child (at least 9 years’ old) use the men's room alone, stand outside the door and call in as your child enters, ‘I'm right out here if you need me’. It's a clear signal to anyone who may be hanging around in there that there's a parent close by.
- Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm, non-fearful manner.
- Make sure that your child knows your cell phone number.
18 safety tips for extreme weather
10 rules for safe snow days
1. Layer up
When it comes to winter play, layering is tricky: Too many layers and you’ll overheat; too few and you'll freeze. Remember, the key to keeping dry is conserving heat while still letting steam escape. How to do that?
- Dress young children in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
- Start with a thin inner layer to wick moisture away from the skin.
- Avoid cotton, which soaks up sweat and holds it against the skin, accelerating heat loss; try a lightweight polyester or polypropylene fabric instead.
- Add two insulating middle layers of similar materials, keeping them a little loose to trap insulating air between fibres.
- Top it all off with a wind- and waterproof outer shell.
2. Protect your hands
Mittens will keep hands toastier than gloves. Look for a quality mitten or glove that offers insulation as well as waterproof protection from wet, melting snow. For even more protection, choose hand wear that extends up the forearm to keep snow out. For feet, dress in thick, heavy socks but go up a shoe size to avoid a too-tight fit: Excess compression reduces socks' insulating effects and reduces blood flow to feet. Boot quality is important too. Insulating, waterproof footwear is essential. Post-play, dry boots with a boot dryer.
3. Dress to be noticed
Be sure you wear bright, reflective colours. Choose bright outer gear (white is not a good option) with reflective graphics on the front and back, shoes with reflective features, and/or place reflective tape on clothing to ensure you are visible in all weather conditions.
4. Protect your skin
Just because you've packed your swim trunks away doesn't mean you’re safe from sun damage. Snow reflects 80 percent of UV rays. When those rays hit exposed, unprotected skin, they can cause a bad burn. Worsening matters, UV radiation exposure increases along with altitudes, making sunblock even more of a must. Slather on water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, covering ALL exposed areas. To ensure broad-spectrum UV coverage, check the labels for ingredients, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide. Skiers and snowboarders should opt for goggles with UV protection and everyone needs to slick on SPF lip balm. Backyard igloo-builders and snowman-makers may opt for sunglasses instead of goggles, but eye protection of some kind is important.
5. Safely dashing through snow
According to some studies, more than 20 000 youngsters under the age of 19 wind up in the ER every year with sledding-related injuries, most often to the head. (Children ages 10 to 14 years sustained the most damage; 60 percent of ER cases were boys.) But today's sledding wannabes don't have to be left out in the cold. Take them to a well-used sledding hill and make sure the area is open and free of cars, trees, posts, and rocks. Pick an off-peak time when child missiles aren't zooming everywhere, and go only when it's light outside. To avoid injury, allow only one child per sled, and avoid snow tubes, which can make it harder for others to see your speed demon (and are harder to stop or hop off without injury).
6. Check sports equipment
Too-small footgear can be overly constricting, while oversized equipment can leave you wobbly and prone to falls, as well as letting snow sneak in, speeding heat loss. Have your winter sports gear checked by a professional at the beginning of the season. And make sure goggles fit and hoods aren't oversized, both of which can obscure vision.
7. Give frostbite the cold shoulder
Despite the cutesy name, frostbite is serious business: The water in our bodies literally freezes. The most common physical symptom is a blister, but by that time it's too late to prevent damage. If she notice any pain, decreased sensation, tingling, or numbness, head inside immediately, where you should run warm – but not hot – water over the affected body part. As for frostbite prevention, use the acronym COLD:
C — Cover hotspots with a hat and gloves or mittens to preserve heat.
O — Avoid overexertion. Take periodic breaks.
L — Layers. Think loose-fitting, lightweight, and water-repellent.
D — Stay dry. If you’re sweating profusely or get snow in your shoes or boots, change into dry clothes, socks, and foot gear immediately.
8. Whet your appetite
It's hard to gauge your hydration needs in the winter months. In fact, cold temperatures actually alter thirst sensation. We lose an appreciable amount of water while breathing outdoors in the chilly air, drying us out even more. But just because you aren't soaked in sweat doesn't mean you don’t need to rehydrate. Keep drinking water throughout the day, just like you would in the summer.
9. Avoid danger zones
The minute you put wet skin – even your finger – on a frozen object, you can do some pretty significant damage, ripping off skin. Allow ice-skating on approved surfaces only (call your local police department for a list). Stay out of snow banks and advise against building tunnels and forts. The former may be the target of city snow ploughs that will have no clue anyone is burrowing inside; the latter can collapse. Enforce a strict buddy system at all times.
10. Take a breather
Just as the cold dries and chaps your hands, it can also be drying to the lungs, causing tightening of the bronchial muscles. Talk with your paediatrician to see if you should prepare your children for winter play with a preventive inhaler or other medication. Pull a neck warmer up over their mouths to warm the air before it's inhaled and monitor them for early warning signs of an impending asthma attack, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, or chest pain. Spot trouble? Have them head inside immediately and treat with moist heat, like taking a steamy shower. Follow up with a hot drink.
8 tips to protect yourself in the sun
Although the following simple tips may not always be possible to follow, when you can, adopt as many of them as you can to protect yourself as much as you can while exposed to the sun.
1. Stay out of thesun while it's at its hottest.
This common-sense approach isn't always easy to follow when fun beckons, but it is important to remember. Avoid activities in the noonday sun as much as possible. It's best to limit your sun exposure between 10am and 4pm each day during warmer months. When you are outside during these times, limit your exposure as best as you possibly can.
2. Wear sunscreen.
While sunscreen doesn’t necessarily have a cooling effect, its protective effect is vital during warmer weather.
3. Stay in the shade.
Retreat to shade as much as possible. Taking breaks under trees works doubly well because trees release water into the air that absorbs some of the heat.
4. Splash water on your skin.
When it’s hot and sunny outside, a dip in cool water is refreshing. You could also try taking showers or baths with cooler than normal water to take the edge off.
5. Wear lighter clothing.
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help to keep you cooler. If it is light in colour, it’s even better, as this will reflect the heat and sunlight better.
6. Keep your head covered.
7. Wear breathable footwear.
8. Choose function over style.
Wear fewer accessories during hotter weather. Metallic accessories can heat up considerably and less is always best when it comes to keeping cool.
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5 ways to de-stress during the holiday season
While the holiday season can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful. The combined effort of shopping, attending social events, and entertaining guests can quickly become too much to handle. Depression is often an unwelcome guest during the holidays. Minimise your stress and anxiety and really enjoy this festive time of year with these five tips…
1. Set a spending budget
Although spending money during the holiday season may be unavoidable, you can control how much you spend. To help prevent stress over money, plan ahead, review your finances, and come up with a realistic budget for gifts. Buying gifts shouldn’t affect your ability to pay your bills, nor should it result in costly credit card debt.
2. Get plenty of exercise
When you’re running around during the holiday season, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. But, being active can elevate your mood and help you cope with stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a minimum of three times each week. Find an activity that works for you and your lifestyle.
3. Keep it simple
The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. You don’t necessarily have to cancel your plans, but make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Know your limitations and learn how to say no.
4. Take time for yourself
Setting aside time for yourself is another great way to cope with stress during the holidays. Even spending as little as 15 minutes alone might make a world of difference. Doing activities you enjoy can help you maintain your sanity.
5. Pick your battles
Being in close quarters with some of your family members for long periods of time can be stressful in itself. If you let every remark get under your skin, you’ll be miserable and stressed out the entire time. Set aside your differences, and agree to disagree.