FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 24, 2013) -- For people of all ages, especially children, winter weather can be dangerous in many ways. With careful planning and supervision, however, children can enjoy the fun and freedom of playing indoors or outdoors on winter days without substantial risk.

Parents or responsible adults and older siblings should always supervise a child’s winter activities. Children don’t view dangers or the possible consequences like adults do. That long, steep hill covered with snow and ice looks like a great place to sled to a youngster but they may not look to see where they’ll end up at the bottom of the hill. Perhaps the ultimate winter sledding activity will land in a safe area or a densely wooded location or a traffic zone.

When playing outside in cold weather, it is paramount to dress children in multiple layers to include the legs, feet and hands. A hat and gloves or mittens should be worn at all times when enjoying snow days and cold weather activities. The biggest proportions of body heat are lost through uncovered heads and hands.

The amount of time spent playing outdoors should be limited to safe intervals as well. Children should periodically come inside to warm up. Remove all wet clothing immediately and change into dry clothes if going back outdoors.

Even though the temperatures are not warm, sunburn can happen in the winter. Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin to guard against burns from bright sunlight and snow glare.

Children should not play outdoors in poor weather such as snowstorms, extreme cold or high winds. When weather conditions are ripe for outdoor activities, wear brightly colored outer clothing that is easily seen from a distance.

Never dress children in winter wear with drawstrings – they can cut off circulation and make frostbite a greater threat, and loose drawstrings may present a strangulation hazard.

Snowball fights can lead to injuries from dangerous projectiles.

Keep roofs, gutters and awnings free from snow and icicle buildup that could collapse and injure someone.

Despite its comical elements, children should be taught to never touch or lick exposed metal in winter. Do not allow children to eat snow. It may contain pollutants or other contaminants, and the cold snow can chill a young child’s body to dangerous levels.

Regularly de-ice or sand sidewalks, driveways, patios and other areas where children may play or use for travelling to and from the bus stop or school.

Never use a space heater in a child’s room. Use extreme caution when using a wood-burning fireplace and teach children fire safety procedures, including how to spot potential hazards.

Do not allow children to play in fires such as roasting marshmallows in a fireplace. Practice family fire drills to reinforce safe behavior.