Cold Weather Alert Guidelines For Child Care Centres
Issuing a Cold Weather Alert
The Medical Officer of Health issues a Cold Weather Alert when the temperature or wind chill could significantly affect local residents but may not meet the criteria for an extreme cold warning alert from Environment Canada and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).
Extreme cold alerts are issued by ECCC when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach -35°C for at least 2 hours.
In both cases, it is important to know how keep everyone at your child care centre safe from cold related injuries.
- Establish a policy and procedure to deal with potential consequences of extreme cold temperatures and winter storms (e.g. power outages, lack of transportation). An emergency kit should be readily available.
- Plan to reduce the amount of time children spend outside when the temperature reaches -15°C or colder, with or without wind chill.
Children should be kept indoors when the temperature reaches -25°C with or without wind chill. Some people are more susceptible to cold, particularly children, and some medications can increase a person’s susceptibility to cold also. Parents should consult with their physician.
- Ensure that children are dressed warmly, covering exposed skin: insulated boots, winter coat, mittens, hat and neck warmer.
- Change wet clothing and footwear immediately, as wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
- Although it is unlikely that cold related injuries would occur during the day, all staff should be able to recognize and treat symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Make sure that children are given plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Watch carefully for the following symptoms when children are playing outside:
- Discoloration of skin
- Complaining of pain, numbness, burning, fatigue, confusion, or slurring of speech
Move the child indoors if any of the above symptoms occur.
- Educate children in dealing with cold weather:
- Dress warmly
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Recognize signs of injury due to the cold
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) recommends that childcare providers recognize the signs of cold related injuries and follow first aid treatments immediately.
In all cases, get the child to a warm place as soon as possible, remove wet clothing, and wrap the child in a blanket if needed.
|Signs of Injury Due to Cold
|What to do:
A mild form of frostbite, where only the skin freezes
What to do:
Warm the area gradually – use body heat (a warm hand)
A more severe condition, where both the skin and the underlying tissue (fat, muscle and bone) are frozen.
What to do:
Frostbite can be serious – get medical attention.
Feeling cold over a prolonged period of time can cause a drop in body temperature (below the 35.5°C).
What to do:
Call 911, this is an emergency.
This content is adapted with permission from the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit.