Surviving the Deep Freeze: 5 Ways to Keep Kids Safe this Winter
Many parents are anxious to get their kids outside for some fresh air and exercise - and to enjoy all that our Wisconsin winter has to offer, but even a few extra minutes of exposure to extreme cold can be dangerous to kids. The Kohl's Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program, a partnership of Children's Hospital and Kohl's Cares, offers five ways to keep kids safe this winter:
The key to protecting against freezing temps is layering. Wool, silk or fleece layers are preferable. Avoid cotton because it doesn't hold body heat well and doesn't dry quickly once it's wet. The outer layer of your clothing should be tightly woven and wind resistant. Layers include: a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth; sleeves that are snug at the wrist; waterproof mittens (warmer than gloves); water-resistant coat and boots; wool socks and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
Sunscreen and water are two items it's easy to overlook when it's cold outside. But, it is just as important to protect skin when glare from the snow makes sun damage more likely. Apply a high SPF sunscreen and lip balm with sun block before heading outside. Children dehydrate easily even in cold temperatures, so load kids up with water often when they are playing outside.
Check kids often to make sure they are warm and dry. Kids younger than 8 years old should not be outside without adult supervision. Have them take frequent breaks to come inside to warm up and hydrate. Never send children outside in extreme weather conditions like snow and ice storms.
Know the signs
It's much easier to prevent frostbite and hypothermia than to treat them. Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on fingers, toes, ears and nose. If you think your child has frostbite, bring them indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water, and do not rub the skin. If the condition persists, call your pediatrician immediately. Hypothermia happens when the body temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold temperatures. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech and unusual behavior. If you think your child has hypothermia, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Winter weather conditions can change rapidly. Keep extra, dry clothing and warm blankets on hand at home and when traveling. Watch the weather, and plan to head inside if conditions do become hazardous. Children should stay indoors when the temperature or wind chill dips into the teens or below.