It’s freezing out there! Not only is cold weather uncomfortable, it could be potentially dangerous. When your child is waiting at the bus stop or playing outside with friends, hypothermia and frostbite can happen more quickly than you think.
Beware of Hypothermia
Hypothermia sets in when a child’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This can happen extremely quickly if a child is exposed to extreme cold and is not wearing proper clothing for the weather.
When the body temperature drops too low, the heart, nervous system, and other organs may begin to not function properly. Children who are experiencing hypothermia will shiver, become lethargic, and have difficulty speaking. If you suspect your child may have hypothermia, bring them inside and call for medical attention immediately.
Frostbite tends to affect extremities such as fingers, toes, ears, and the nose and occurs when the skin tissue becomes frozen. Typically, frostbite will make the skin gray, pale, and blistered. The child will also complain of numbness or a burning sensation in the affected area.
If your child appears to have frostbite, do not rub the frozen skin. Place the affected skin in warm, 104-degree Fahrenheit water. Be sure the water is not hot. Pat the area dry and cover the child with clothes and blankets. If numbness continues after a few minutes of treatment, seek medical attention.
Frostbite is easily prevented with the right cold weather gear.
The Right Clothing Is Vital
It is important to find the right balance between ensuring your child is being protected from the cold, but not overdressing them to the point that they sweat. Keep the following suggestions in mind when picking out their outfit for the day:
- Dress them in layers. Dressing your child in layers will help them regulate their own body temperature. If they’re too hot, they can simply remove a layer, but put it back on later if they get too cold.
- Wear a hat that covers the ears. Did you know that most of a person’s body heat is lost through their head? A hat that covers the head and ears can keep the heat in and help prevent frostbite.
- Wear waterproof, warm, non-slip boots. Having quality footwear, especially when there is snow or ice on the ground is extremely important. If moisture is able to get inside the boot, the child’s toes can become cold very quickly. Especially if conditions are slippery, be sure that the boots have plenty of tread and grip on the bottom.
- Mittens tend to be better than gloves. Mittens are usually warmer than most gloves. Gloves only trap air around each finger, whereas mittens utilize each finger’s heat to warm the other fingers.
- Scarves can help keep the face warm. While frostbite can be prevented with hats, gloves, and boots, the face needs coverage as well. If your child wears a scarf, they can cover their mouth and nose with it.
When your child is back inside, remove the wet clothing and have them changed into dry clothing as soon as possible.
If you have any questions about your child’s health, call Bethany Pediatrics at (570) 346-1464.