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12-7-10

Children’s Winter Safety Tips

Winter weather causes safety concerns for infants and children, so special precautions should be taken to protect them from the elements.

Protecting infants and children from winter weather calls for safety precautions and several important ones have been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Dr. Tracy Milbrandt, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, suggests that parents dress their children in layers for cold weather.

SOUND BITE:    “. . . we do recommend dressing in multiple thin layers so long johns, turtlenecks and sweaters in addition to their coats.  Typically children need about one more layer of clothing than adults do.  And, of course, they need hats and gloves and mittens to minimize the exposure to bare skin.”

Dr. Milbrandt says the biggest concerns for children playing outside in cold weather are hypothermia and frostbite.  Hypothermia occurs when the child’s body temperature falls below a normal level due to exposure to cold temperatures. 

SOUND BITE:  “Some of the earliest signs of hypothermia are shivering so we do recommend as soon as we see children shivering, they need to come indoors immediately to warm up.  Later, more complications of hypothermia include feeling sleepy or clumsy or lethargic and that really can be a medical emergency and we recommend seeking medical attention immediately.”

Dr. Milbrandt says frostbite can occur when the skin and outer tissue areas become frozen.  It can happen first to the fingers, toes, nose and ears.  The skin becomes pale or gray and blistered.  The frostbitten areas need to be warmed slowly in warm water.  If the numbness or tingling sensation lasts more than five minutes, you should see your primary care physician.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.