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winter safety tips

Winter Safety Tips for Children

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winter safety tips for Children PTandMe
When the temperature drops and snow is on the ground, your children can still benefit from some outdoor physical activity. All it takes is a little extra planning to stay safe.

Layer Up!
Infants and children lose heat more quickly due to their size. As a result, they are more likely to suffer from low body temperature, also known as hypothermia. Dressing in layers is a good way to provide your child with added warmth during the winter months. Your child should wear 1 more layer than an adult would wear. Choose fabrics that wick moisture to help pull sweat away from your child’s skin and keep them warm.

Here are some other winter stafety tips to help keep your child safe in the cold:
• Mittens are warmer, but gloves allow your child to use their fingers more. Consider having your child wear mittens over a pair of light gloves.
• Keep your child’s feet warm and dry with 2 pairs of socks.
• Avoid long scarves and drawstrings or ties, which could become a choking hazard. Consider neck warmers or turtleneck garments.
• Choose hats and hoods that do not obstruct your child’s vision.
• Keep a dry set of clothing at school in the event your child’s clothes become wet.

Winter Sport Safety
Winter safety tips for sports such as skiing, skating, snowboarding, and sledding require adult supervision and added safety measures. To help keep your child safe:
• Make sure your child wears a helmet and other protective gear such as wrist guards for snowboarding and a mouth guard for ice hockey.
• Teach your child to be aware of and avoid hazards when sledding such as cars, trees, and ponds.
• Do not allow your child to skate on surfaces until you are sure the water is frozen solid.
• Do not allow your child to wear headphones while playing. Headphones will block traffic or grooming machine sounds.
• Encourage your child to keep moving when outdoors to help generate body heat.

Bring your child inside at the first sign of frostnip—skin that is red, numb, and tingly. Soak your child’s skin in warm water until the symptoms go away. Do not rub the skin. If symptoms do not improve, call your child’s doctor. If your child’s skin becomes white, hard, and swollen, your child may have frostbite. The skin may also burn, tingle, or become numb. If you think your child has frostbite, bring your child inside and put your child in dry clothes. Do not rub the skin, rubbing can cause more damage. Call for medical help right away.

hockey_player

Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
It is possible for your child to get a sunburn in the winter since sunlight reflects off of the snow and ice. Your child should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it to your child 20 minutes before going outside and reapply it every 2 hours.

Fuel Up for Fun
Dehydration can contribute to hypothermia. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, especially during vigorous physical activities. Your child will also need to fuel up to generate body heat needed for outdoor play. Provide your child with plenty of healthy snacks such as trail mix, fruit and bread.

When to Play
Freezing temperatures and wind are risk factors for hypothermia and frostbite. Avoid severe cold. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and plan outdoor activities for warmer days without snow or rain.

Following these winter safety tips will allow you and your child to safely enjoy the beauty of winter.

by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA

RESOURCES:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Chillin’ with winter safety. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Chillin-With-Winter-Safety.aspx. Updated January 19, 2016. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Frostbite in children. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=frostbite-in-children-90-P02820. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Keeping kids safe in the cold. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www2.aap.org/sections/schoolhealth/ECarchivenovember11.html. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated:10/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

For more winter safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this season check the articles below!

Staying Warm in Winter PTandMe  snow shoveling safety PTandMe  

cold weather safety

Keeping Extremities Warm in Winter

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OUTDOOR SAFETY
Highlights
• Dress warmly and stay dry.
• Wear a hat, scarf, and mittens.
• Avoid frostbite.
• If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.
• Avoid walking on ice or getting wet.
• Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing.
• Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
• If you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.

When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible, and remember these tips below to protect your health and safety.

DRESS WARMLY AND STAY DRY
Adults and children should wear:
• a hat
• a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
• sleeves that are snug at the wrist
• mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
• water-resistant coat and boots
• several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

AVOID FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

AVOID EXERTION
Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

UNDERSTAND WIND CHILL
The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.

AVOID ICE
Walking on ice is extremely dangerous. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.

snow war

BE SAFE DURING RECREATION
Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Do not leave areas of the skin exposed to the cold. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-wave radio, waterproof matches and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol and other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages. Avoid walking on ice or getting wet. Carefully watch for signs of cold-weather health problems.

BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT TRAVEL
• Listen for radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service.
• Do not travel in low visibility conditions.
• Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
• If you must travel by car, use tire chains and take a mobile phone with you.
• If you must travel, let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Ask them to notify authorities if you are late.
• Check and restock the winter emergency supplies in your car before you leave.
• Never pour water on your windshield to remove ice or snow; shattering may occur.
• Don’t rely on a car to provide sufficient heat; the car may break down.
• Always carry additional warm clothing appropriate for the winter conditions.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET STRANDED
Staying in your vehicle when stranded is often the safest choice if winter storms create poor visibility or if roadways are ice covered. These steps will increase your safety when stranded:
• Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers and raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing).
• Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
• Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.
• Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
• Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
• Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.
• Huddle with other people for warmth.

For more information about winter safety visit: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.asp

For more PTandMe cold weather safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this winter check the articles below!

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