My husband has a saying he saves for the coldest, snowiest ski days. “Skiing is a winter sport,” he’ll crow, reminding us that cold weather is an integral part of our favorite sport.
When our sons were small, he’d tell them this while bundling them with extra lay-ers and hand warmers.
Dressed for Arctic exploration, we’d head out together onto frigid, uncrowded slopes, often scoring some of the most enjoyable runs of the season.
Wear the Right Clothing
Having the right ski clothing makes the difference between a day spent in the ski lodge and a day spent skiing.
This doesn’t mean you must purchase the most expensive brands. It does mean that you make a point of dressing yourself and your children in the best coat, pants, mittens and layers you can afford.
Look for well-made, basic ski clothes and avoid cotton and cotton blends, which neither insulate nor wick moisture away from your body. Instead, opt for wool or polypropylene long underwear, socks and mitten liners.
Mid-layers made of fleece or down are highly insulating, while jackets and ski pants should be water- and wind-resistant with either natural or synthetic down insulation.
Layers Work Wonders
Wearing layers is the easiest way to add warmth on cold days. Layers capture body heat and are easy to shed if you get too warm.
On the coldest days, add an extra layer or two. Double up on baselayers and don an extra fleece or down vest.
If you or your children suffer from cold hands, try mitten liners, or use disposable hand warmers.
Helmets and goggles will help keep your head both safe and warm, as will adding a thin beanie underneath a helmet or wearing a hood. Balaclavas, face masks and neck gaiters also add warmth.
Be aware however that layering your ski socks is counterproductive and can result in colder feet if your boots become too tight. One thin pair of good ski or snowboard socks is all you need.
Stay Warm and Dry
Damp, wet clothing draws heat from the body. Bring extra socks, mittens and long underwear, especially when skiing with kids. If your child is cold, make sure that all of his or her clothing is dry and switch out anything that is wet.
Also, after skiing and snowboarding, dry your boots thoroughly with fans or hot sticks, or by dropping disposable hand warmers into the liners and then removing the liners from the shells overnight.
Eat and Drink
Hunger and dehydration can make everyone cold. Make time to eat and drink throughout the day and never skip lunch. Take frequent breaks to refuel, rehy-drate and warm up.
Use Common Sense
Cold weather is relative. -15° C (5° F) with abundant sunshine can feel warmer than -7° C (20° F) on a snowy day when the wind is blowing. This means that there is no definitive temperature telling you when it’s too cold too ski.
Instead, bundle up and try skiing. Return to the lodge or warming hut when you or your kids begin feeling cold. Eat some soup. Sit by the fire and relax. Add another layer. Once you have warmed up, try skiing again.
Cold Weather Safety
Extremely low temperatures can cause serious conditions like frostnip, frostbite and hypothermia.
Children are more vulnerable than adults to these conditions, as they lose heat more rapidly through their skin.
Especially when having fun, children may not realize that they are cold. This makes it important to bring your kids in to get warm even before they complain of being cold.
Frostnip and Frostbite
Frostnip occurs before frostbite and usually affects exposed skin. Frostnip is characterized by red skin that is tingly or numb. Frostnip is best treated by coming inside and warming up.
Frostbite occurs when ice crystals form in the skin and deeper tissues. Frostbit skin is completely numb and looks white, grayish-yellow or grayish-blue and waxy.
If you suspect frostbite, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Hypothermia happens when body temperature drops a few degrees below normal.
The symptoms of hypothermia are shivering, having to go to the bathroom, con-fusion and sleepiness. As these symptoms are broad and general, the best re-sponse when skiing with kids is to come inside if your child exhibits any of them.
Other life-threatening symptoms include tight or stiff muscles, blurry vision and slurred speech. If any of these symptoms occur, seek immediate emergency care.
Additionally, if you have any questions about taking your children into the cold, or their safety in cold weather, please consult your pediatrician.
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com