As temperatures drop across the country, it’s essential to ensure that your little ones are protected from the cold. After all, studies show that babies and children lose body heat faster than adults. It is important to plan ahead and know how to defend against frigid temperatures.
Babies and Children Lose Body Heat Faster Than Adults
According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, babies can lose heat more than four times faster than adults. This creates a serious risk for frostbite and hypothermia, even if they are only in the cold for a short while.
Winter Safety Tips for Keeping Your Children Warm and Safe
Whether your children are heading outside to play or running errands with you, follow these tips to keep them cozy and warm, even in the cold:
- Dress babies and young children in layers, including hats, gloves/mittens, boots, and a warm coat. As a rule of thumb, dress young children in one more layer than you would an adult at the same temperature.
- Avoid dressing children in heavy snowsuits or jackets when they’re in car seats. Instead, opt for thin, snug layers.
- If temperatures fall between 13 and 31 degrees, children should come inside every 20 to 30 minutes. If they need to stay outside for longer, make sure they’re wearing layers and quality outdoor gear. Pack a hot drink, if possible.
Take Precautions During Wintertime Outdoor Activities
Wintertime outdoor activities such as sledding, snowboarding, ice skating, and throwing snowballs are a great way for kids to get their daily exercise and cure cabin fever. However, remember that babies and children lose body heat faster than adults. Keeping that in mind, since children are more at risk from the cold than adults, parents must take precautions to ensure their safety.
Check the Wind Chill
Playing outside in temperatures or wind chills below -15° Fahrenheit should be avoided, as exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes.
As mentioned above, dress your child in several thin layers of clothing that can help keep them warm and dry. Make sure children change out of any wet clothes right away. A wet outfit can cause serious health complications. In cold enough weather, it can even lead to frostbite. More on that below.
Take Frequent Breaks
Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside. Make sure kids have a place to go for regular indoor breaks to warm up. No matter what, taking a rest is extremely important. Don’t let little ones overexert themselves. They may seem to be bundles of limitless energy, but they are definitely not!
Watch Out for Frostbite
Frostbite occurs when the skin, and the tissue below it, freeze. Fingers, toes, ears, and noses are most affected. If you suspect frostbite, bring your child indoors to gently warm up. Don’t rub the affected area, and don’t pop any blisters. Soak frostbitten areas of the body in warm (not hot) water for 20 to 30 minutes, then dry and cover your child with blankets. Give them something warm to drink. If the pain or numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your pediatrician. Again, babies and children lose body heat faster than adults.
Avoid and Prevent Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when the body’s temperature drops below normal from the cold. A child may start shivering, which is a sign the body is trying to warm itself up. They may then become sluggish, clumsy, or slur their words. If you suspect hypothermia, call 911 right away. Until help arrives, bring your child indoors, remove any wet clothing, wrap your child in blankets or warm clothes, and give them something warm to drink. If your child stops breathing or loses a pulse, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR.