Are Snow Forts Dangerous? How to Keep Them Safe


There is no doubt that snow forts are fun. But the real question is whether they’re dangerous or not. Some people are concerned about a snow fort collapse, and what that can mean to the kids playing inside.

Snow forts can be extremely dangerous if they’re built without adequate safety measures. Being trapped under a collapsed snow fort can cause internal injuries, broken bones, frostbite, and hypothermia. To make snow forts safer, build robust structures such as an igloo or castle walls without a roof.

In this article, you’ll learn about what dangers snow forts carry. You’ll also learn how to make them safer in case you want to build one anyway.

The Dangers of Snow Forts

Snow forts can be as scary as an avalanche. Although we build snow forts in our yards and not high and mighty mountains, the same dangers await. 

Getting Buried Under Snow Piles

Snow forts may collapse, and as they collapse, they trap whoever’s underneath. Children are especially in danger in case this happens.

Adults can probably push away snow if the fort is small and the snow pile isn’t that big. But children can’t get out of the snow easily and they run the risk of suffocation.

Even if a person survives, being buried in the snow for a long time is likely to cause frostbite or hypothermia.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Snow forts are naturally cold and wet. Spending a long time in a cold and damp environment increases the risk of developing dangerous health conditions. Most importantly, if you or your loved ones get trapped under a collapsed snow fort, you should watch for both frostbite and hypothermia.

Although they’re similar, it’s helpful to know how these two problems are different from each other.

Frostbite is the freezing of body tissues, while hypothermia happens when the body temperature drops dangerously low.

Frostbite usually affects the nose, ears, fingers, and toes. In severe cases, the suffering person may lose the affected body parts as they dry out and fall. If your skin becomes exposed to cold weather, it is most likely to be affected by frostbite. Initial symptoms include:

  • Cold and red skin
  • Numbness and lightness of skin
  • Skin becomes dark – the most dangerous phase of frostbite

Hypothermia can cause irregular heartbeats and impair different systems in your body—especially the nervous system—as your body loses heat faster than it’s capable of producing it.

In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to complete heart and respiratory system failure. Hypothermia symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Mumbling
  • Clumsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness

Here’s a video warning of the dangers associated with snow forts:

https://youtu.be/nMLg9JnpJuo

How to Treat Frostbite and Hypothermia

You can treat mild frostbite at home with first-aid measures and warming up the affected area. But if it’s worse, you should go to the hospital. Severe frostbite cases need medical attention because it can damage the skin, tissues, muscles, and even bones.

The primary treatment for hypothermia is to warm up the body to its normal temperature. But again, you should go to the hospital if your symptoms get worse.

The mildest and least dangerous condition you can catch in snow forts is the common cold or the flu. The disease itself might be irritating for a while, but treating it isn’t difficult at all. If it’s not too serious, all you’ll need is a bowl of homemade soup and plenty of water and rest. You will miss out on the fun of other winter activities, though.

Injured Bones and Internal Organs

The snow walls of a fort can’t hold the weight of its roof for a long time. So, the person inside the fort is likely to get trapped under a pile of snow. If the snow pile is heavy enough, its sudden collapse can injure that person’s internal organs or break their bone.

If the snowbank is near a road, you run the risk of car accidents or getting hit by snowplow trucks.

In bad weather conditions, drivers are more likely to turn their cars toward the side of the road to avoid potential accidents or collisions with other vehicles. What happens if someone is trapped under a snow pile, and a driver hits that pile? You can probably imagine the damage!

Snowplow trucks are more dangerous since their job is to move snowbanks.

In either case, the accident may result in fractures or broken bones, and the person may sustain internal organ injuries. Moreover, incidents involving snow plow machines can be especially dangerous, painful, and sometimes fatal. You definitely want to avoid them.

How to Make Snow Forts Safely

Snow forts are dangerous and can be catastrophic sometimes, but no one can deny that they’re fun. There’s no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the pleasure of building and playing in a snow fort while still staying safe.

Check out our article, How To Build Snow Forts That Will Last for more tips and tricks on the best way to construct a strong snow fort.

Below are some suggestions on how to make your snow forts more robust and, therefore, safe:

Here’s a video showing a fun way to make snow forts safely:

Choose the Right Structural Design

To reduce the likelihood of your snow fort collapsing, you should build something like the traditional igloo or form your walls like a castle. You can also try digging out a snowdrift or carving out a snowbank. Each fort structure has its own strengths and weaknesses.

For example, the turret’s structure is clean in geometry and easy to build. It’s also a good refuge from snowball attacks from the outside. The downside is that it has a sense of medieval architecture and is far from modern. So, if your fort’s beauty is important, maybe this design isn’t for you.

It’s highly recommended that you skip the roof for safety measures. Don’t worry; it will still be beautiful even if you don’t close it with a roof. 

Moreover, instead of tunneling into a snowbank, build your snow fort on solid ground. This way, the structure is less likely to collapse since your snow fort’s base is the solid ground, not soft and squishy snow. 

You can also consider using other objects in your fort structure. Your fort shouldn’t necessarily be all out of snow. You can use buckets, bricks, trashcans, and tubes to make the walls more sturdy.

If you don’t want to use those items, you can always purchase a block mold or a snow fort kit like these from Amazon:

These items also help you make sturdier snow blocks than when you do it with your hands.

Build Them With a Partner

Don’t build snow forts alone. Having a partner around can double the fun, and you’ll be able to come up with more creative ideas for your snow fort. Besides, if anything bad happens to either of you, the other person can rush to assistance or call for help.

Choose the Right Outfit

Choose your outfit carefully when you plan to stay in a snow fort for a long time. Wearing the three basic layers can protect you against hypothermia, frostbite, and the flu. 

Your base layer should keep your body dry by taking away all the sweat and keeping away the snow at the same time. The middle layer’s main job is to keep you warm, and the outer layer should be 100% waterproof. 

If you wear your clothes in layers, you can stay out in the snow longer without discomfort.

Conclusion

Although snow forts are fun, they can be extremely dangerous if you don’t take the necessary safety precautions and build a weak structure. The risks include being buried under a pile of snow, bone and internal organ injuries, frostbite, and hypothermia. 

To ensure safety, use reliable structural designs such as the traditional igloo or castle walls. Moreover, don’t build the fort alone. Having someone there to assist you is necessary should something go wrong. Also, wear multiple layers of clothes to keep your body heated and protected against the wind.

Helpful Links:

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

Recent Posts