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Environmental safety

Sun safety | Hot and cold weather guidelines | Smog safety | West Nile Virus |

Hot and cold weather guidelines

Playing outside in all types of weather and temperatures is very healthy and promotes the well-being derived from exercise. However, the body needs to adapt to changes in temperature and necessary precautions must be taken during very hot and very cold temperatures to avoid problems. Avoiding heat-related problems in hot weather is just as essential as avoiding frostbite in cold weather.

Cold weather guidelines

Peel Public Health recommends the following steps to be taken to prevent cold injuries:


  1. Prepare a plan to deal with the potential consequences of extreme temperatures and winter storms (e.g. power outage, lack of transportation. Have an emergency kit available).
  2. Reduce the amount of time children (grade 8 and under) spend outdoors when the temperature is - 20 degrees Celsius or colder (with or without wind chill).
  3. Keep children indoors when the temperature is - 25 degrees Celsius or colder (with or without wind chill). Some medical conditions may increase sensitivity to cold.
  4. Allow indoor breaks if children say they are feeling cold or during extreme temperatures.
  5. Ensure children are dressed warmly, covering exposed skin: insulated boots, winter weight coats, mittens, hats, neck warmers.
  6. Change wet clothing or footwear immediately.
  7. Ensure you are able to recognize the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Give plenty of warm fluids to prevent dehydration.
  8. When children are outside, be watchful for shivering or signs of numbness in faces, ears, hands, or feet.
  9. Educate children in dealing with cold weather: drinking plenty of fluids, dressing warmly, and recognizing signs of cold injury.

Cold Injury Symptoms

Mild cold injury: Shivering or numbness in face, hands, feet, and ears.

Frostbite: Skin may look whitish or greyish yellow, feel hard or waxy and be numb.

Severe hypothermia: Fatigue, confusion, or slurring of speech - call 911, this is an emergency.

Treatment of Cold Injuries

  • Move the person out of the cold as soon as possible, then:
    • Remove wet clothing.
    • Warm the affected area slowly. Use warm - not hot water. Use warm hands/body heat (do not rub).
  • If you cannot move the person out of the cold:
    • Cover them with something dry such as clothing or blankets while waiting for help.
    • Do not attempt to warm the affected area because warming and refreezing will cause greater damage to the area.
    • Give warm drinks.

Avoid Additional Injury

Tissue suffering from cold injury is fragile and can be easily damaged.

  • DO NOT RUB the area.
  • The affected area is numb and easily burned. DO NOT HEAT QUICKLY by using:
    • Hot water.
    • Hot water bottles.
    • Heating pads.
    • Electric blankets.

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Hot weather guidelines

Direct heat (sunlight) and reflected heat (from sand, sidewalks, artificial surfacing, etc.) will increase the heat surrounding the body. The best way to cool off is through the skin; air movement and water (as in a swimming pool) are ways to improve this cooling mechanism. Heat illness can happen when the body is unable to cool off. Please follow these hot weather guidelines to protect your children.

Hot weather guidelines for children

Peel Public Health recommends the following steps to be taken to prevent heat-related illness:

General Recommendations

  1. Keep children cool and if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place.
  2. Limit time outdoors between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. when temperatures and UV radiation are most intense. Offer regularly scheduled rest periods.
  3. Stay in the shade whenever possible (natural or artificial structures) when outdoors.
  4. Cover up when in the sun. Ensure children wear a wide brimmed hat, UV protective sunglasses, and light and loose fitting clothing.
  5. Be sure children are well hydrated. Plain water is the liquid of choice; diluted fruit juice is okay.
  6. Check regularly on infants and young children to be sure they stay cool and hydrated.
  7. Keep babies under one year of age out of direct sunlight. Sunscreens/insect repellent are not recommended for infants under six months of age.
  8. Apply sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) 20-30 minutes before going outside to ensure absorption.
  9. When using DEET insect repellent, apply 20-30 minutes after sunscreen has been applied.
  10. NEVER leave children in a closed parked vehicle.
  11. Monitor children with disabilities and check the heat on metal and vinyl parts of wheelchairs.
  12. Check heat of metal slides, monkey bars etc. in playground areas.

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During a heat alert

  • Keep children cool
  • Keep children hydrated
  • Monitor children closely

Follow the General Guidelines AND

  • Suspend all outdoor activity if possible, or limit time spent outdoors. Where possible keep children in an air-conditioned place.
  • Check frequently on children and monitor those in wheelchairs more closely.
  • Keep children well hydrated by giving water and diluted fruit juices frequently.

During an extreme heat alert

Follow Heat Alert Guidelines AND

  • Consider cancelling outdoor activity and keeping children indoors. If at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place or go to the shopping mall, library, recreational facilities or heat-relief shelters.

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Heat illness signs and treatment

Sunburn: redness, pain, swelling of skin, blisters, fever and headaches.

Treatment: Leave water blisters intact to speed healing and avoid infection. If breaking of blister occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious cases should be seen by a physician.

Heat Cramps: heavy sweating can cause painful muscle spasms usually in the legs but possible in the abdomen.

Treatment: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm; give sips of water, if nausea occurs discontinue sips of water, move person to a cooler place to rest in a comfortable position. Observe the person carefully for changes in condition.

Heat Exhaustion: heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin, weak pulse, fainting and vomiting, core temperature usually 38.8 Celsius or higher, but normal temperature is possible.

Treatment: Get person out of sun, move person to a cooler environment, lay person down and loosen clothing, apply cool wet cloths, give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue sips of water; if vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

Heatstroke: severe medical emergency, high body temperature (41 degrees Celsius or higher), hot, dry skin, rapid and strong pulse, possible unconsciousness.

Treatment: Call 911, if unable to get person to medical help immediately, do the following:

  • Move person to a cooler environment
  • Remove outer clothing
  • Reduce body temperature using lukewarm (not cold) water to bathe/sponge the person
  • Do not give fluids

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For more information:

Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health professional

Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

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Revised: Wednesday May 22 2019

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