Dayton Children's offers eight ways to protect children from getting frostbite
01-13-2009 (Dayton, OH) -
The colder temperatures of winter bring about a host of problems we don't deal with during the rest of the year. If your children aren't ones for sitting in front of the fireplace to sip hot cocoa, but instead prefer to get outside and play, help them stay safe by knowing the signs and symptoms of frostbite!
Frostbite is the freezing of the skin due to exposure to extremely cold weather. Tom Krzmarzick, MD, medical director of the emergency department at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton says that frostbite can vary in degree from tingling and redness to hard, waxy skin.
Children are at a greater risk than adults to develop frostbite because they lose heat more rapidly and are less likely to come inside when they are cold. Dr. Krzmarzick suggests keeping infants indoors if the temperature is below 40 degrees and keeping all children inside if the wind chill is less than 10 degrees.
"Frostbite can occur during any outdoor activity, especially fast moving activities such as sledding or ice-skating. The colder or windier it is, the quicker an unprotected body part can become frostbitten," Dr. Krzmarzick says.
Dr. Krzmarzick provides eight ways to keep children warm and safe:
- Dress 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.
- Change socks and mittens frequently. If 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.
- Clothes should be kept dry.
- Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play- bring children in periodically to warm up and change from any wet clothing.
- Check 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 children in bright-colored clothing so they can be seen among snowdrifts.
- Don't forget sunscreen. The winter sun reflects off winter snow increasing dangerous rays.
Children should be encouraged to play in the snow and enjoy this weather but parents should make sure weather conditions are appropriate for playing outside. With proper precautions children can be safe and have a great time enjoying winter weather.
However, parents should be aware of the signs indicating frostbite. The first symptoms of frostbite are numbness and tingling in the cheeks, nose, ears, fingers and toes. Watch for skin that has turned red, pale or has developed blisters.
Dr. Krzmarzick recommends seven tips to treat areas of the body affected by the cold:
- Remove wet clothing and give 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.
Read more about frostbite and hypothermia.
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