Winter Safety

Camps spend a great deal of time emphasizing safety when working with children during the summer.  Staff are typically well trained to deal with a variety of injuries, emergencies, and other problems that might come up.  Most camps have guidelines for preventing dehydrations and heatstroke, for dealing with sunburn and headaches, and for a whole host of other safety issues that can arise in the heat of summer days.

But when fall arrives, followed closely by winter, much of that cautiousness is left behind.  It isn’t that we stop thinking about safety.  We still salt and sand our sidewalks, we help elderly campers to their doors, etc.  But we simply don’t have the same urgent need to be prepared “just in case”.  Winter weather can, however, be just as dangerous as summer heat.

Even if you don’t have the time or resources to create a master plan for dealing with severe weather, ice storms, hail, etc., there are a few steps you can take to be better prepared should a winter crisis arise.

  1. Have heating and food backups.  This doesn’t mean you need to stockpile 10 years of firewood, or have a room dedicated to emergency blankets, but it does mean being aware of your location and resources.  If your camp is rural, you do need to be certain you have the ability to keep your campers warm if the heating goes out for some reason.  If you won’t be able to do that, where can you send everyone?  Is there a church nearby?  A large home?  The same is true for food.  What if the weather is so bad that your guests need to stay for an extra day, even two?  Will you be able to feed them in some manner?  It doesn’t need to be the well-rounded meals they are accustomed to receiving, but be aware of the possibility.
  2. Windshield De-Icer.  This usually comes in an aerosol can and can be found at most stores.  It will come in handy especially when trying to get your guests on the road after an ice storm.  You’ve salted and sanded the sidewalks, the county has done the same for the roads, and everything is safe and ready to go.  But your guests’ cars have been sitting, unused, since the storm and still have a thick coat of ice all around them.  You can’t even get the door open.  Windshield de-icer can be sprayed directly onto the ice on the windshield and door seams.  Problem solved!  This problem will likely come up only once every couple years, but it is much easier to have the deicer sitting in your maintenance closet waiting for use than to try and find some when you need it.  Make sure that the product you are using won’t affect paint before using it.
  3. Travel kit.  This is for your safety, not your guests’.  As camp staff, travel is a constant companion.  And even if the weather is bad, or just plain freezing, we cannot always cancel our commitments.  So make your travels as safe as possible by keeping a winter driving kit in the trunk of your car.  This kit should include basic first aid, food and water, toiletries, a flashlight, matches, extra cash, and duct tape.  You should also keep a blanket, boots, and extra warm clothes along with it.  Getting in an accident, running out of gas, or getting lost will no longer come with the possibility of serious complications due to exposure.  For a more complete list, FEMA is a great resource.

Related Articles:

Winter Snow Games

The Winter Blues

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