10 Tips: Keeping Children Safe in Cold Weather

(Abdul Moeed, Islamabad)

Children wear clothes Cold

1۔ Think layers :
Put several layers of clothing on your child and make sure their head, neck and hands are covered. Dress babies and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear.
2. Beware clothing hazards:
Scarves and hood strings can strangle smaller children so use other clothing to keep them warm.
3۔ Check in on warmth:
Tell children to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Then keep watching them and checking in. They may prefer to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.
4. Use sunscreen:
Children and adults can still get sunburn in the winter. Sun can reflect off the snow, so apply sunscreen.
5. Install alarms:
More household fires happen during the winter so make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
6. Get equipped:
Children should always wear helmets when snowboarding, skiing, sledding or playing ice hockey. Any sports equipment should be professionally fitted.
7. Teach technique:
It takes time to master fun winter activities like sledding, so make sure children know how to do the activity safely.
8. Prevent nosebleeds:
If your child suffers from minor winter nosebleeds, use a cold air humidifier in their room. Saline nose drops can help keep their nose moist.
9. Keep them hydrated:
In drier winter air kids lose more water through their breath. Keep them drinking and try giving them warm drinks and soup for extra appeal.
10. Watch for danger signs:
Signs of frostbite are pale, grey or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes. If you think your child has frostbite bring the child indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think your child has hypothermia call 9-1-1 immediately.

Green Zone: 30°F and higher
Kids can usually play outside comfortably when it's 30°F and higher -- just layer their clothing and make sure they wear hats and mittens. Offer water often (it helps regulate body temperature), and watch for signs that they're getting chilled. If they're shivering, bring them inside even if they insist they're fine. Feel babies' hands and (if possible) feet regularly to see if they're turning icy; also watch for unexplained fussiness. It's a good idea to come inside for a quick break every 40 minutes or so, just to warm up a bit.

Yellow Zone: About 20°F - 30°F
Be cautious. It's okay for your kids to go out, but follow the guidelines above, and expect to see signs of chill sooner -- take short indoor breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. It's especially crucial to layer older kids' clothes, since they may ditch their coats if they get sweaty and so need to be wearing more than a thin shirt underneath.

Red Zone: Below 20°F
Stay indoors.

Winter Disease
Snowboarding.
A properly sized snowboard is essential, says Pat Milbery, a pro boarder in Denver. You can buy one at a sporting-goods shop or rent one at a local ski slope. A ski center can offer both a kid-friendly setting and lessons. Your backyard, if it's sloped, or any sledding site is okay, too. As your child gets better, break out your shovel to create mini-bumps for him, Milbery suggests.

At some point this season, you're going to be faced with a tough call -- your crusty-nosed kid is begging to be allowed outside for a snow-fort fight. Should you stick a hat on him and hope for the best, or send him back to bed? Atlanta pediatrician Vivian Lennon, M.D., sorts through the symptoms:

Fever:
If your child is running a fever and feels bad, he belongs in bed, no arguments. (Okay, arguments, because what kid doesn't argue? But you have to win.) Still, "I tell parents not to get freaked out by fever itself," Dr. Lennon notes. "If your child is energetic, he doesn't have to stay in bed. And if you give him some fever reducer and his temperature drops, he can even go outside to play for a little while." What's important is that he not mix with other kids while he's feverish, since he's contagious.

Sore throat: If it's mild and your child has no fever, let her go do her thing. If it's more severe, and your child has trouble swallowing, a strep test is in order.

Cough:
If you keep your kid indoors just because he's hacking, he'll see the light of day less often than most vampires. As long as your child looks good, is drinking fluids well, and is breathing normally, it's okay to let him go outside. (If he's short of breath or has chest pain, however, call your doctor.) Just be aware that a cough can get worse outdoors -- he may have to come in at intervals to rest up. And have your child stop playing altogether if he gets so winded that he's having difficulty completing sentences.

Runny nose:
Like coughs, runny noses can last for days after the initial illness has passed. If your kid's drippy sniffer is accompanied by a fever, follow the fever guidelines at left. Otherwise, "if she's letting you know she's ready to play, it's fine to let her out," Dr. Lennon says. Worth noting: Yellow snot isn't as ominous as it looks. Generally, mucus darkens after it's been in the nose all night long, or several days into a cold. "It's a natural progression of the virus," explains Dr. Lennon. If there's thick green or yellow mucus for a week, however, see your M.D. Your kid may have developed a sinus infection.

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