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Winter is a time of wonder for many children; many enjoy the crisp air, the freshly fallen snow and participating in a whole host of exciting winter sports and activities.

Although we feel it is important for children to spend 2 hours outside each day exercising and socializing with their friends, there are times when bitterly cold temperatures and other inclement weather conditions require that we keep children inside.

Because Niagara is such a large geographical area, and weather conditions may vary from one municipality to the next, the decision whether or not to go outdoors is made by our Program/Administrator Supervisor. When making this decision, the centre will often consult with neighbouring schools, talk with parents as they arrive in the morning, refer to the Niagara Region Weather Alerts, Niagara District School Board Increment Weather Report, Environment Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommendations. The health and well-being of our children is a top priority at the The Chestnut Tree Preschool, and if it is determined that the weather conditions pose a risk to their safety, children will be kept indoors.

Extreme cold weather alerts issued by the Niagara Region are often good indicators that children will stay inside.

Even when temperatures are not low enough to necessitate an indoor playtime, it still may be quite cold outside when you consider the windchill factor. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your child stays warm during the cold winter months.

  • Send children to preschool with plenty of layers.
  • Children should have a snowsuit or warm winter coat that repels the snow, sleet and rain, while blocking the wind.
  • Warm socks and boots are a must to keep their feet warm and dry in the snow.
  • Hats are one of the most important parts of dressing warmly in the winter. Up to 40 per cent of essential body heat loss can occur through the head
  • Put on a good pair of gloves or mittens that are water-resistant as well. Gloves will keep kids’ hands toasty warm and protect their skin from becoming damaged by the wind and chill.

Extreme Cold: Temperatures with or without Windchill

Warmer than -10° C Toddlers may remain outside for all regular outside activities
Warmer than -15° C Preschoolers’ may remain outside for all regular outside activities
Between -15° and -20 °C Preschoolers’ may remain outside for shorter intervals at a time
Colder than -10° C Toddlers must remain inside
Colder than -20°C Preschoolers’ must remain inside

Niagara Region Extreme Cold Weather Criteria

  • Temperatures fall below -15 C
  • When weather conditions are severe enough to warrant alerting the community to the risks involved with prolonged exposure to the outdoors (blizzard, wind chill warning)

The Canadian Paediatric Society Recommends

  • Keeping children indoors if the temperature falls below -25 C, or if the wind chill is -28 C or greater

What is frostbite?

In cold temperatures, skin that isn’t properly covered or protected can freeze quickly. When skin freezes it’s called frostbite. The most common body parts to get frostbite are the cheeks, ears, nose, fingers, and toes.

  • Skin will first become red and swollen and will feel like it is stinging or burning.
  • If the skin isn’t protected or warmed, it will start to feel like it’s tingling and will look grey.
  • If the skin freezes, the area will have no feeling and will be shiny and white.

Frostbite can happen in cold wind, rain, or snow. Once a part of the body has had frostbite, it’s more likely to happen again.

How can I protect my child from frostbite?

Plan to reduce the amount of time children spend outside when the temperature falls to -15°C (5°F) or colder, with or without wind chill. Consider keeping them indoors whenever the temperature or the wind chill is reported to be -27°C (-16°F) or lower. At this temperature, exposed skin begins to freeze.

If you have any questions about our inclement weather procedures, please speak to our Program Supervisor or visit our website or refer to Environment Canada Extreme Weather Alerts at