The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following information for keeping your children safe and warm:
- The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
- Hypothermia develops when a child's temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing.
- As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. The child's speech may become slurred and their body temperature will decline.
- If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap the child in blankets and/or warm clothes.
- Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose are at greater risk because they are more susceptible to heat loss. Symptoms of frostbite include skin that is pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that their skin burns or has become numb.
- If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of their body in warm (not hot) water; 104 degrees Fahrenheit 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 and/or blankets. Give them something warm to drink.
- If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your health care provider.
- If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child's room at night. Saline nose drops may help keep tissues moist.
- Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. However, the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing, and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and the flu.
- It is recommended that children between the ages of six months and 18 years get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu.
For more tips, please visit the HealthyChildren.org Winter Safety Tips website.