In upstate New York, we know about winter! It can be cold and snowy – sometimes colder and snowier than usual. Families don’t always want to stay inside. Winter can be fun! Here are some tips for parents to keep your kids warm and safe during the winter months when the weather can be oh so frightful!
It’s always best to dress kids in layers. Putting kids in several thin layers allows you to remove one layer at a time if the child becomes too warm. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a great thing to remember is to dress infants and kids in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Also, dress kids in hats (and keep ears covered), warm boots and mittens. When the child comes inside, remove their wet clothes and boots immediately. When transporting babies in the car, avoid bulky coats or snowsuits and opt for thin layers.
Don’t leave kids unsupervised
Winter activities can be fun, but young kids should be supervised outdoors by an adult. Use the buddy system for older kids while playing outside. Parents, keep an eye on kids while they are doing winter activities such as sledding or ice skating.
Sometimes, it’s too cold
How cold is too cold? According to the Paediatrics & Child Health journal, if temperatures drop to -13 degrees Fahrenheit or if the wind chill is greater than -18.4 degrees, then parents should keep their kids inside.
Come inside periodically
Besides dressing warmly, the best way for kids to avoid hypothermia and frostbite is to come inside and warm up periodically. As parents, set time limits and ask kids to come inside and warm up. When they do, serve them a warm drink.
Look out for hypothermia
Hypothermia is usually called when a child is playing outdoors in colder weather without wearing properly clothing, says the AAP. Being exposed to the cold causes their temperature to drop below normal. Signs that a child has hypothermia include shivering, becoming lethargic and clumsy, slurred speak and low body temperature. If this happens, they recommend that you call 911, remove all wet clothing, bring the child indoors and wrap them in warm, dry blankets until help arrives.
Look out for frostbite
Another thing to look out for during colder temperatures is frostbite, which occurs when skin and outer tissue becomes frozen, says the AAP. Frostbite happens on ears, fingers, noses and toes (extremities). Your child may complain that their skin burns or is numb, and the skin may become blistered, gray or pale. They recommend you bring the child inside immediately, place the frostbitten part of the body under warm water (not hot water) and apply warm washcloths to ears, lips or nose. Areas should not be rubbed, and after a few minutes, the areas should be dried and the child should be covered with blankets. Call your doctor of the numbness continues.
There are a lot of winter games and activities that kids like to play! Snow tunnels and snow forts can collapse and suffocate kids, and playing in snow banks is also unsafe, as snowplows or vehicles may not see children. When sledding, make sure to stay away from roads and motor vehicles, avoid sledding on crowded slopes and in areas where there are trees and fences, and encourage your child to wear a helmet. Steerable sleds are much safer than snow disks or inner tubes. If your child wants to go ice skating, make sure they are supervised and only skate on approved surfaces. If you’re unsure, the AAP says to ask your local police department.
Of course, while being safe, remember to have fun!