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Cold Weather Risk Assessment

How cold is too cold for kids? Well, it depends.

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Blonde curly haired boy snuggles under warm blankets on couch
Protip: Put Blankets in the dryer while you play outside and they'll be toasty when you come in!

This morning, I sent a very rare message to my parents ahead of our school day,

In case anyone was wondering what "too cold for outside" looks like. It's today ! Hopefully we be able to make it out in the afternoon. But we will stay inside until the temps reach 13* (with windchill considered).

You'll find lots of opinions on the temperature range where frostbite or hypothermia are a risk,

I sent my parents two articles to give a glimpse into the decision-making process for me.

Tales of A Mountain Mama explains both the reasoning and logistics of sub-zero temperatures with kids in a beautiful way and encourages getting outside for at least 30 minutes until the temperatures reach 10 degrees in the shade, 0 in the sun.

A Healthier Michigan also had great explanations and guidelines but was more conservative with their recommendations.

But what's the "right" answer? What should we follow as a nature-based preschool? With temps not breaking 20* till late afternoon, I had to do a Risk Assessment. If you don't know what a risk assessment is, make sure you go back and read this post and grab the freebie.

While I don't do a written risk assessment for every single instance, every day is filled with daily assessments. And sub-zero temperatures definitely called for a risk assessment.

Risk: Frostbite and Hypothermia - Prevention: Layers and proper gear. STAY DRY.

So this morning I had to ask myself, can I do this? And can I do this without losing my mind? Is it worth the 45 minutes of getting everyone ready and dressed for 10 minutes of safe outside play? The answer is...yes. But no. Not with me. I hope they get their 10 minutes with their parents today, but the risk of taking them all out was too high this morning. Rowe and I are getting out this afternoon for some Vitamin D !)

Here's where a risk assessment HAS to be personalized. Because the answer is different for each individual here.

With a preschool full of kiddos who have a history of taking gloves off, peeing pants, or finding the one puddle of water and sitting in it or putting their face in it...I made the decision that for our crew, the risk of someone getting frostbite WAS too great to justify the risk.

If it was just me and my son, or a group of older children, my answer probably would have been different. And that's what I want to emphasize today. Observe your environment, assess risk, and make the decision best for you.

Hope you all are staying warm and remember you are loved,


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