From sled riding to building a snowman, kids love to play outside in the snow. But what if it’s too cold? Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, has some tips for parents to make sure their children are playing safely out in the cold.
What are the signs of some health problems caused by cold weather?
As the temperature drops, prolonged exposure to the cold makes our body susceptible to injuries such as:
Frostbite: An injury caused by the skin and underlying tissues freezing, most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, and cheeks.
Hypothermia: An emergency condition when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.
Signs of these conditions are:
- Skin that feels numb or unusually firm
- Redness or pain in any skin area
- Fumbling hands
- Low energy
- Memory loss or confusion
- Drowsiness or exhaustion
What do we if signs are present?
If you notice any of these signs:
- Seek medical attention
- Get the individual into a warm room
- Remove wet clothing
- Warm them under layers of dry blankets or clothing
- Offer warm drinks to slowly raise their temperature
- Place areas affected by frostbite in warm-to-touch water
How can we protect ourselves against the cold?
To make sure your children stay injury-free in the cold:
- Check snow gear before it snows. Make sure to have several layers of loose-fitting, water-resistant clothing to stay warm and dry.
- Set a timer. Depending on the weather and wind chill, children should avoid playing outside for longer than 20 minutes.
- Warm children up slowly. Avoid immediately offering hot baths or hot foods. Extreme changes could bring a child’s temperature up too quickly, causing them to pass out.