General Health & Wellness • Dec 13, 2010

Enjoy your snow day indoors!

Many kids are home enjoying their first “snow day” of the season. While nothing beats building that perfect snowman or conquering the backyard slope with your new sled, it’s important to remember that temperatures outside can be dangerously cold.

Here are some winter tips to help keep your kids safe throughout the season:

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm.  Clothing for children should consist of thermal long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • A good rule of thumb for older infants and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent frostbite.  Have children come inside periodically to warm up.
  • The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow.  Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.

Playing winter sports

  • Always supervise your child’s winter activities.
  • Ice skating should only be done on ice that has passed the proper inspection.
  • Sledding paths shouldn’t be too crowded or too close to roadways.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Sleds should allow for steering so avoid snow tubes or disk-shaped sleds.
  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children and should never ski alone.
  • While out on the ski slopes they should always be wearing helmets and gloves with built-in wrist guards and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Snowboarding for children under 7 is not recommended.
  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 do not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.  Helmets are required for all children.

Hypothermia and Frostbite

  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold and often happens when a extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet.
  • When hypothermia develops a child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy with slurred speech.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
  • Frostbite occurs when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.  They may become pale, gray and blistered while the child may complain that her skin burns or have become numb.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears, and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover your child with clothing or blankets. Encourage warm fluids to drink and if the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.