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Guidelines for Winter Outdoor Play


Guidelines for Winter Outdoor Play

Megann Sauer, M.D.​
Boys Town Pediatrics

​Hi, I'm Megann Sauer and I'm a pediatrician at Boys Town Pediatrics.

A common question that we're frequently asked in the winter time, in clinic, is when is it too cold for my child to go outside and play?

One of the things to remember is that windy days can feel much colder than the actual temperature outside.

The wind chill factor is the most important thing to remember.

Here's an easy way to break it down.

When it is 30 degrees and higher outside, this is the green zone.  It's ok for your kids to comfortably play outside.

Just remember to layer their clothes and make sure they're wearing hats and mittens.

Try to offer water frequently as that helps regulate body temperature.

Watch for any signs that your child is getting chilled, such as shivering. If you do see this, bring them inside immediately, even if they insist they're fine.

Feel babies' hands and if possible their feet regularly to see if they're turning icy.

Remember, it's always a good idea to come inside for a quick break every 40 minutes or so, just to warm up a bit.

When the temperature is 20 to 30 degrees outside, this is the yellow zone.

Be cautious. It's okay for your kids to be outside, just follow the same rules that you do in the green zone.

However, remember that it's easier for children to become chilled sooner.

It's especially crucial to layer your kid's clothing outside. They may become sweaty from playing outside but they need to make sure that they're wearing more than a thin shirt if they do take off their coat.

The red zone is when the wind chill temperatures drop below 20 degrees.

The rule here is to stay indoors.

The risk to your child's skin becomes too great when the temperatures drop below 20.

Stay indoors and have fun with indoor activities.

Winter fun is approaching. Just remember the green, yellow and red zones before you head outside to insure that everyone stays safe.​

​​It's important for children to spend time outdoors, playing in the fresh air, but outdoor play in the winter requires parents to take some extra precautions. Dr. Megann Sauer, pediatrician at Boys Town Pediatrics, explains when it is safe to let children play outside and when it is unsafe due to the cold.​​​​