Snow day! Have fun, but remember to stay safe

STATE COLLEGE — The snow has arrived in Happy Valley.

Snow started falling before dawn and hasn’t let up. Penn State and Centre County school districts closed for the day. If you or your family are headed out to play in the snow, remember to follow some simple rules to staying safe in the winter weather.

Layer up. Dressing in layers helps insulate the body without overheating. The layer closest to the skin should be a moisture-wicking material. This clothing can be found at sports stores, typically near the running section. This material pulls the sweat away from your body – and prevents you from overheating. Use caution when dressing small children and babies. Scarves and mittens on a string are cute, but can be a choking hazard.

Warm up. After coming inside, take off all wet clothing immediately and put on fresh, dry clothes. Be sure to cover the wrists, toes and ankles to help keep body heat trapped. A fresh change of clothes by the door makes this process easier and so does a mug of hot cocoa to warm the hands.

All helmets are not created equal. Snow sports-related head injuries – like concussions – are becoming more frequent. Particularly in the 7-17 year old range, making helmets a must according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The helmet should be approved and meet the required safety recommendations for that particular sport. The helmet should fit comfortably, but snug, on the head without movement forward or backward. Remember to try on last year’s helmet to make sure it still fits.

Take frequent breaks. Playing in the snow can be a lot of fun – but there is a smart way to do it. Be sure to take breaks every 30-40 minutes. To avoid windburn, use lip balm with SPF often. Playing in the snow is a physical activity, it’s important to get some water during those breaks also.

Beware of the danger. When you check on kids, take a look at their skin. If their skin is pale, grey or blistering on the fingers, ears, nose or toes, it could be frostbite. Submerge the affected area under running warm (not hot!) water for 15-30 minutes. Shivering, slurred speech and clumsiness may be a sign of hypothermia. If you think your child has hypothermia, call 911 immediately.

How do you keep warm when playing in the snow? Let us know on social media (@happyvalleypsu)!

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