Winter is a magical time of year: snowflakes, hot cocoa, warm mittens, sledding, skiing and more. What isn’t so magical is getting hurt from being out in the cold for too long. Keep your child safe this winter season with these winter safety tips for kids from the Association of Childcare Physicians:
- How to Dress
When spending time outdoors, remember to dress your child warmly. Dress them in several thin layers to stay snug, dry, and warm. Don’t forget to cover extremities with hats, gloves, and boots, as they are more likely to get frostbitten. For long car rides, dress babies and children in snug, thin layers rather than bulky coats.
- Avoiding Hypothermia
Hypothermia is defined as “having an abnormally low body temperature, typically one that is dangerously low.” This occurs when a child is exposed to cold weather without proper winter clothing. The risk for hypothermia greatly increases when clothes get wet. Warning signs for hypothermia include shivering, clumsiness, lethargy, slurred speech, and declined body temperature. If you suspect hypothermia in your child, call 911 right away. While waiting for help, seek shelter indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap the child in warm layers.
- Preventing Frostbite
Frostbite tends to affect extremities like the toes, fingers, nose, and ears when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Warning signs include red and tingly skin, which may become gray and painful, and ultimately white, cold and hard with no pain. To prevent frostbite, avoid going outside when the temperature or wind chill is below -15 degrees Fahrenheit. When your child does go out to play, dress them in warm layers. If their clothes get wet at any time, bring your youngster inside to change. If frostbite does occur, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten area in warm (not hot) water. You may want to administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen during this process, as thawing the skin is painful. If blistering occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
- Winter Health
Cold air and winter winds are typical causes for nosebleeds. To soothe dry and irritated nasal tissue, try using a humidifier in your child’s room at night. Saline nose drops and petroleum jelly can help prevent nosebleeds by keeping nasal tissues moist. Viruses also tend to be more common during the winter, so it is important to stay on top of your child’s health by encouraging frequent hand washing and proper sneezing/coughing techniques.
- Sun Protection
Many people associate sunscreen with summer time, but applying sun block is just as important during the winter. In fact, it might be more important to be diligent about protecting your skin during the winter, as the sun’s rays can reflect off snow and cause sunburns. Extra moisturizers are also important, because skin can become dry and cracked over the cold, blistery winter months.
- Winter Sports Safety
While playing outside in the snow seems like infinite fun to children, it’s best to set limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Supervise young children when they are using winter equipment such as sleds, skis, and snowboards. Hills and slopes should be clear of debris and obstructions. Your child should always wear appropriate safety equipment when playing outside, and supervision is especially important when playing on fast moving sleds and snowboards. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye!
The Association of Childcare Physicians hopes you have a happy, healthy (and warm) winter this year. If you have questions about keeping your child safe in the cold weather, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. If it’s time for a check-up, visit http://childcarephysicians.com to set up an appointment today.