OK, I live in L.A. I can’t complain about the weather, right? But I was born in Ohio, and I remember being bundled into my snowsuit in February just to go outside and play for an hour. (And then, invariably, I’d have to go to the bathroom way too soon and my poor mom would have to peek off all those layers…)
Watching the Weather Channel, I realize my kid is growing up without some of the outdoor experiences I had as a kid. And those snow days are great memories. But you gotta keep those little ones safe and toasty when it’s so cold outside.
As a kids’ health writer, I’m always looking for great tips to share with parents, and these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are just what you need this time of year to keep your kids safe and comfortable:
° Think layers. The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Clothing for older kids during very cold weather should include thermal long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.
° Keep your baby warm — and safe — at night. Blankets, quilts, pillows, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and should be kept out of an infant’s bed. A one-piece sleeper is preferred.
° Avoid hypothermia. This condition develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing. As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. His speech may become slurred and his body temperature will decline. If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
° Prevent frostbite. Frostbite develops when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Fingers, toes, ears and nose are most at risk, and they may become pale, gray and blistered. The child may complain that her skin burns or has become numb. To protect against frostbite, set reasonable time limits on outdoor play. Have children come inside periodically to warm up. (Young children should be checked every half hour when playing outside in cold weather.) If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten areas. Do not rub the frozen areas. After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give her something warm to drink. If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
° Don’t forget the sunscreen and lip balm. The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.