Emergency Medicine Physician Offers Tips for Children and Families
Children should never ice skate, ski, sled, snowmobile or snowboard alone. Parents should encourage helmet use to prevent possible head injury and always supervise activity. Set time limits on outdoor play and request children come inside periodically to warm up.
- Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
- Advise your child to skate in the same direction as the crowd, avoid darting across the ice and to never skate alone.
- Children should be supervised while sledding.
- Do not allow sledding near cars and avoid sledding in crowded areas.
- Keep young children separated from older children.
- Do not use snow disks or inner tubes.
- Sled feet first or sitting up to prevent head injuries.
- Choose sledding areas that are:
- Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted annually.
- Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.
- Choose slopes that fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder.
- Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.
- Children under age seven should not snowboard.
- Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
- Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles.
- Travel at safe speeds.
- Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.
Problems arise when infants and children are not dressed properly. They should be dressed in several thin layers to say warm and dry. Adequate outdoor clothing includes thermal long johns, turtlenecks, at least one shirt, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.
Hypothermia develops when a
child's temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens
when children are playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing
proper clothing or when clothes get wet. As hypothermia sets in, the child may
shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Their speech may become slurred and
body temperature will decline.
What to do: Call 911 if you suspect your child is hypothermic. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and wrap them in blankets or warm clothes.
Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that their skin burns or has become numb.
What to do: If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of the body in warm water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. Do not rub the frozen areas. After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him something warm to drink. If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.