Winter Safety Is More than Hats and Coats!

Most of America is experiencing a real winter this 2011!

Over New Year’s 32 inches of snow fell in northern New Jersey alone, yet some places in the U.S. were unscathed, so we feel fortunate to be living in a more moderate climate–but it’s only January and several months more of cold weather and possible snow and ice are on the way.  What can we do this season to protect our kids?

Certainly dressing infants and children warmly and in layers if they are going out of doors is a good idea. And encouraging them to play indoors during periods of extremely cold temperatures works better for them too. Yesterday, I watched two young adult parents as they brought their child into a store–they had to cross a windy parking lot in 20 degree temps. The child was in an infant seat, thankfully bundled up.  But this made me wonder–wouldn’t it have been better for one of the parents to remain in the warmth of their home with the baby?  We will never know the answer to that question.  But here are a few tips to cope with the winter cold:

  • Thin layers of clothes consisting of thermal underwear, tee shirts, sweaters, socks, and warm pants are very good if children are going out of doors.  We recommend coats, hats, gloves, and boots over layered clothing if necessary to keep kids warm and waterproof in the cold and snow. (Oh… and keeping an eye on them is also good, so that they don’t remove their clothes as they play!)
  • One-piece sleep-suits or “sleepers” are great and keep baby warm best while sleeping or again thin layers and a single cover with the child’s face exposed.  We caution parents to refrain from using a lot of covers in the sleeping area, to protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite if your child is outside for awhile.  In hypothermia, children can shiver or become lethargic or clumsy-acting if they’ve been out too long in the cold or worn improper clothing. Their speech can become slurred as well.  Frostbite endangers little ears, hands, faces, and toes, and parents and caregivers need to watch for the signs of grey blotchiness on their cheeks or complaints of numbness in digits or the feeling of “burning” skin.
  • If you think your child may have hypothermia, bring them indoors, remove any wet or cold clothing, shoes and socks, redress them warmly and wrap them in blankets and call 911. Keep them good and warm until help comes!
  • If you think your child may have frostbite, again, bring them indoors and remove any wet or cold clothing, shoes and socks, redress them warmly and apply warm (not hot) water by washcloths to the affected areas (nose, ears, lips, etc.).  Do not rub the affected areas. Give your child a warm drink.  If the feeling of numbness persists more than a few minutes, call 911, and keep your child warm until help comes.

Being a caring parent or caregiver in the cold months takes a lot of effort,  but there are things you can do to make your child’s life more comfortable in cold weather.  Use sun screen on hands and faces, make sure they wear their mittens and hats, even using a humidifier to protect their sinuses from dry heat is a big help to kids. And a simple thing like making sure they wash their hands frequently (even in cold weather) to protect them from getting viruses that seem to appear more frequently during the winter season is another good way to keep them safe.

ChildSafetyBlog.org wishes you and yours a safe, healthy and happy New Year 2011 and a great winter season!

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