Dressing properly for the weather makes it fun to be outside even when the temperature drops below freezing.
Clarion file photo
Kids may seem impervious to the weather, working up a sweat even as they roll in the snow. But common sense and safety say children and adults still need to dress appropriately for Alaska’s winter weather.
Sears Elementary School nurse Bekki Jackson ex-plained that elementary school students in the district go outside daily for recess unless the temperature including wind chill reaches minus 10 degrees.
“They need to be prepared for cold weather,” Jackson said.
That means children should have snow boots, snowsuits, coats, gloves and hats at school every day.
“We don’t let them go out without them,” Jackson said. “They need to dress for safety and so they enjoy being outside.”
Invariably, children do forget their gear. And sometimes, families cannot afford new winter apparel for growing children. At Sears, Jackson said, the school office maintains a collection of assorted winter wear to loan to children. The school also has a limited budget and set of supplies to give to families in severe need.
“It seems like we never have quite enough, but we always seem to find enough,” she said.
Families in need of inexpensive winter wear can visit clothes closets in the area, such as the Clothes Quarters in Kenai, or an assortment of thrift stores. Families whose children may have grown out of the gear also are encouraged to consider donating used winter wear to area schools.
“We have donations come in from community businesses and private donors,” Jackson said. “They need to be in reasonably decent condition and freshly laundered. It’s nicer to have them ready to put on the child than to have to mend them or have to do a whole lot of laundry.”
What goes for the school day goes for after-school hours, as well.
Adults should keep an eye on children playing outside, as kids don’t always heed nature’s warnings to come in from the cold. Children lose heat more quickly than adults, especially from extremities. Heads, necks, hands and ears should be covered, and feet should be properly encased in water-tight boots. Children also should cover as much as their faces as possible when playing outside.
Children aren’t the only ones who need to take precautions.
Adults should wear similar winter gear while braving the elements, particularly hats to hold in body heat and proper shoes and gloves to protect fingers and toes from frostbite.
Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) is a good idea, as snow serves as a perfect mirror for UV rays from the sun. Petroleum jelly can help protect the lips from getting chapped.
Finally, wearing layers is one of the best ways to prepare for changing weather. In the modern days of high-tech gear and fibers like polypropylene-based long johns there’s no reason for children or adults to have to look like immobile little brother, Randy Parker, from “A Christmas Story.”
And, with a little preparation, there’s no reason an Alaska winter shouldn’t be a fun, safe and even warm time for residents of all ages.
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