Following the tragic death of a Regina girl found buried under snow in her yard, many parents may be talking to their kids about snow safety.
The provincial coroner’s office confirmed the 12-year-old girl was found Tuesday evening under snow in her own back yard.
Police, firefighters and EMS were called to the home on Dunnison Crescent in the Greens neighborhood of east Regina at 6:30 p.m., the girl was later pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.
The girl is not being named, but she was a Grade 7 student at École St. Elizabeth School. Parents who claim to know the family have shared posts on social media saying she was playing in a snow tunnel at the time.
The news has sent shockwaves through the community, with many people commenting on Facebook they never thought snow forts could be dangerous.
A local expert in child safety is urging parents to keep letting their kids play in the snow while talking about safety and potential risks.
“These types of deaths are very rare and we do not know under what conditions that this death occurred and we cannot say what could have been done to prevent this type of death,” said Cara Zukewichm, a child injury prevention program co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute.
In the wake of this tragedy, she said she hopes families will think about the benefits as well as the risks.
“Remember that snow can be fun and we shouldn’t deter our children from going outside to play in the snow,” Zukewich said.
“Active play in the snow is good for our overall health in terms of motor skills like climbing and jumping, in terms of our social skills and our problem-solving skills.”
She said even building snow forts can be very good for kids’ development if they are careful about safety and take proper steps.
“If you have been taught how to properly build a quinzhee and properly dig it out – have a one-inch thick wall, that type of thing – they are very beneficial. So it shouldn’t deter families from engaging in that type of activity,” Zukewich commented.
For anyone who is unsure or uncomfortable with their kids playing in snow forts, she suggests making structures and carving them out to play on top of instead of underneath the snow. Other options include building them out of recycled materials like milk cartons, or decorating snow with dye.
Zukewich said parents should take time to consider all potential hazards and to talk to them about safety procedures and to be aware of their environment.
Some basic safety skills to teach kids include telling parents where they will be and for how long.
“Using the buddy system whether it’s a friend or a sibling so that there’s a couple of kids maybe together so that one can call for help if they need it,” Zukewich commented.
Zukewich said their thoughts and prayers are with the girl’s family and friends in the wake of the tragedy.