Let’s face it, this winter has been one for the ages. With the record amount of snowfall in the Northeast and the bitter cold in the Midwest and South, we have all been suffering in the cold. In January, the American Academy of Pediatrics released their advice on keeping your children safe and warm this winter.
If your kids play sports or just want to play outside in the cold here are some tips:
– Always make sure your kids take breaks from the cold. If your kids are playing outside in the snow or on the soccer field, they need to have a break periodically. If kids are outside, make sure they come in to warm up every 20-30 minutes. If they are playing on the soccer or baseball field, have extra blankets, hot chocolate, and anything that can help them warm up.
– Dress for being outside. A lot of kids want to go outside without their jackets, gloves and hats (my kids included). Make sure they are completely bundled up. They need to dress in several thin layers to keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget the warm boots, gloves and a hat.
– Wear sunscreen. In the winter we don’t think much about sunscreen. But the sun’s rays can still give us sunburns in the winter. Especially when the sun is reflecting off the snow. Cover your child’s face with sunscreen or use a hat with a front mask.
– Know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. In extreme cases, kids will stay outside way too long and develop hypothermia or frostbite. As hypothermia sets in, your child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. If that happens call 911 immediately and remove any wet clothing and wrap your child in warm blankets or clothing. Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This usually happens on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. According to the AAP, they may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb. If this happens, place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. 104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. Do not rub the frozen areas. After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink. If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
– Don’t over bath your child in the winter. A baby and child will not need a bath more than two to three times a week. Too many baths will dry out the skin especially during the winter. You can always use a humidifier in a child’s room at night to retain moisture. This is also effective for bloody noses in the winter. Use saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly if this happens. And use plenty of moisturizer on their skin.
– Talk about safety when ice skating or sledding. Kids get very excited in the snow and ice. But we need to remind them to be safe and follow safely rules. If a child is ice skating they still need to be bundled up. This is for their protection. Never skate alone and consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. If your child is sledding, make sure they say away from cars. They still need to be supervised while sledding and keep the younger kids away from the older kids. It’s a good idea to have your kids wear a helmet while sledding to avoid any head injuries. Have them go sledding feet first or sitting up.
To read more about the AAP’s recommendations about winter safety, read this!