Child Care Weather Watch – Understand the Weather!

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) lays out clear regulations and procedures for every licensed child care facility throughout the state. Regulations include, but are not limited to; size and available space of facility, equipment within the facility, transportation provided by the facility, disciplinary practices utilized within the facility, student to teacher ratios, staffing and qualification requirements of staff and volunteers, health and safety needs of the students and staff, and so much more. The list just keeps going. There are so many areas that are covered through the legal authority of the Department of Human Resources.

As the director of a licensed child care facility I can honestly say that I work in partnership with the Department of Human Resources. I rely on their insight and knowledge in all aspects of my job, and seek out their guidance when necessary. I hope that I am able, through this blog to share some of what I have learned through my experiences as a center/school director, and through working with our DHR Representative.  

According to the DHR Minimum Standards for Day Care Centers, all children (Infants/Toddlers and Preschool/School-age) shall spend time outdoors daily when weather permits. With that said, winter time is known for the dropping temperatures and the runny sniffly noses. Although all of our little ones want to play outside, we want to make sure they are doing it safely, and I believe that is what our families want as well. Therefore, it is important that parents remember to bundle your child(ren) up in weather appropriate clothing (layers layers layers), to include a jacket/coat, gloves, and hat.

The information below should give everyone a clear picture of how to understand the weather and what temperatures are comfortable for out-door play during the summer-time and winter-time, and what temperatures are not. I use this guide at home with my children, and at the school with all of our students.

Watching the weather is part of a child care provider’s job. Planning for playtime, field trips, or weather safety is part of the daily routine. The changes in weather require the child care provider to monitor the health and safety of children. What clothing, beverages, and protections are appropriate? Clothe children to maintain a comfortable body temperature (warmer months – lightweight cotton, colder months – wear layers of clothing). Beverages help the body maintain a comfortable temperature. Water or fruit juices are best. Avoid high-sugar content beverages and soda pop. Sunscreen may be used year around. Use a sunscreen labeled as SPF-15 or higher. Read and follow all label instructions for the sunscreen product. Look for sunscreen with UVB and UVA ray protection. Shaded play areas protect children from the sun.

CONDITION GREEN – Children may play outdoors and be comfortable. Watch for signs of children becoming
uncomfortable while playing. Use precautions regarding clothing, sunscreen, and beverages for all child age groups.

INFANTS AND TODDLERS are unable to tell the child care provider if they are too hot or cold. Children become fussy when uncomfortable. Infants/toddlers will tolerate shorter periods of outdoor play. Dress infants/toddlers in lightweight cotton or cotton-like fabrics during the warmer months. In cooler or cold months dress infants in layers to keep them warm. Protect infants from the sun by limiting the amount of time outdoors and playing in shaded areas. Give beverages when playing outdoors.

YOUNG CHILDREN remind children to stop playing, drink a beverage, and apply more sunscreen.

OLDER CHILDREN need a firm approach to wearing proper clothing for the weather (they may want to play without coats, hats or mittens). They may resist applying sunscreen and drinking beverages while outdoors.

CONDITION YELLOW – use caution and closely observe the children for signs of being too hot or cold while outdoors. Clothing, sunscreen, and beverages are important. Shorten the length of outdoor time.

INFANTS AND TODDLERS use precautions outlined in Condition Green. Clothing, sunscreen, and beverages are important. Shorten the length of time for outdoor play.

YOUNG CHILDREN may insist they are not too hot or cold because they are enjoying playtime. Child care providers need to structure the length of time for outdoor play for the young child.

OLDER CHILDREN need a firm approach to wearing proper clothing for the weather (they may want to play without coats, hats or mittens), applying sunscreen and drinking liquids while playing outdoors.

CONDITION RED – most children should not play outdoors due to the health risk.

INFANTS/TODDLERS should play indoors and have ample space for large motor play.

YOUNG CHILDREN may ask to play outside and do not understand the potential danger of weather conditions.

OLDER CHILDREN may play outdoors for very short periods of time if they are properly dressed, have plenty of fluids. Child care providers must be vigilant about maximum protection of children.

Understand the Weather

The weather forecast may be confusing unless you know the meaning of the words.

Blizzard Warning: There will be snow and strong winds that produce a blinding snow, deep drifts, and life threatening wind chills. Seek shelter immediately.

Heat Index Warning: How hot it feels to the body when the air temperature (in Fahrenheit) and relative humidity are combined.
Relative Humidity: The percent of moisture in the air.

Temperature: The temperature of the air in degrees Fahrenheit.
Wind: The speed of the wind in miles per hour.
Wind Chill Warning: There will be sub-zero temperatures with moderate to strong winds expected which may cause hypothermia and great danger to people, pets and livestock.
Winter Weather Advisory: Weather conditions may cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, these situations should not become life threatening.
Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter conditions have begun in your area.
Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter conditions, like heavy snow and ice are possible within the next day or two. 

Wind-Chill

30º is chilly and generally uncomfortable
15º to 30º is cold
0º to 15º is very cold
-29º to 0º is bitter cold with significant risk of frostbite
-20º to -60º is extreme cold and frostbite is likely
-60º is frigid and exposed skin will freeze in 1 minute

Heat Index

80º or below is considered comfortable
90º beginning to feel uncomfortable
100º uncomfortable and may be hazardous
110º considered dangerous

All temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit

Child Care Weather Watch was produced by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Healthy Child Care Iowa. This guide was produced through federal grant (MCJ19T029 & MCJ19KCC7) funds from the US Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Maternal & Child Health Bureau. Wind-Chill and Heat Index information is from the National Weather Service.

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About Nina Soden

Wife, Mommy, Young-Adult Fantasy Author, Artist, Actress, Director... I'm only as old as I feel and I try to see the good in everyone, but some days that's a struggle.
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