01-03-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
To children, freshly fallen snow means a huge hill, a group of friends and a swift sled, but staying safe needs to be a priority. With snow already here, planning for fun winter activities can help children stay safe while enjoying the white weather.
Children can be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia when spending a long time outside. Regardless of age, parents should check and make sure that their children are properly outfitted for time in the snow. Winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves and other winter gear are especially good at preventing frostbite and hypothermia. Here are more tips to avoid frostbite and hypothermia:
- Dress your children in layers and have them wear insulated boots. Double socks and double mittens will keep children insulated and add a little extra warmth. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep all fingers together.
- Clothes should be kept dry. Change socks and mittens frequently. If your children sit in wet, cold clothing they may be more susceptible to illness including hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature.
- Remember to cover the body's most susceptible regions: ears, fingers and toes. Keep hats on children because most body heat escapes from the head.
- Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play- bring your children in periodically to warm up and change out of any wet clothing.
- Check on children every 15 to 20 minutes to make sure they aren't too cold and their layers remain on.
- If you are in an area with deep snow, dress your children in bright-colored clothing so they can be seen among snowdrifts.
- Don't forget to apply sunscreen. The winter sun reflects off winter snow increasing dangerous rays.
Avoiding frostbite and hypothermia is very important, but knowing the signs and symptoms can also help children stay safe! Frostbite is characterized by numb fingers, ears and noses and eventually can lead to redness and pain. Sometimes the affected skin feels hard and looks waxy. Hypothermia is a dangerous decrease in body temperature, which can affect brain and muscle functions.
“Younger children are more susceptible to hypothermia,” says Tom Krzmarzick, MD, medical director of the Regional Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. “Children can’t compensate for heat loss as well as adults. Infants are especially at risk for hypothermia.”
Dr. Krzmarzick and Dayton Children’s recommend these tips for treating areas of the body that have been affected by the cold:
· Remove wet clothing and give your children warm, dry clothes.
· Soak the area in warm, never hot water (less than 108 degrees).
· Avoid rubbing the area, which could damage tissue.
· Cover the body part loosely with a non-stick, sterile dressing or dry blanket.
· Do not warm areas of the body affected by the cold by a fire or space heater because it's possible to burn the affected area.
· Have your child drink warm beverages, such as hot cocoa, tea or milk.
Parents should contact their pediatrician with any concerns. If the child’s skin looks discolored or the child has lost sensation, call 911 immediately. Although winter is a time of snowmen and sledding slopes, safety is still a parent’s number one priority. Using these tips and treatments, children can enjoy the snowy weather, but remain safe and protected from winter’s cold bite.
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