The temperature is dipping lower and lower. In some states, snow is piling on the ground, and your young children are itching to go outside and play. Winter weather may bring joy to the kids, but preparing them to stay safe outside can be an overwhelming task.
Even if you’re just running to the grocery store with your children, dressing them correctly for the cold is important. Several factors, like a larger surface area per unit of body weight and decreased thermal insulation, put infants and small children at greater risk of experiencing hypothermia and frostbite if exposed to cold weather.
So how can you help prevent this? You may think grabbing every bulky sweater and jacket in the house will do the trick to keep them warm, but you must be cautious to not overdo it. Here are six tips to consider that may help keep your child safer when the temperatures dip:
- Give yourself time. Heading out into the blustery cold with your young child requires a lot of assembly. Structure in enough time to properly dress your kids and to allow for cautious driving on slippery roads.
- Dress your child in several layers of light clothing. A rule of thumb is typically one additional layer than what you are planning to wear outside. Start with fitted clothes, like leggings or a onesie, followed by warmer sweaters or thermals, and top with a fleece or jacket. This may help keep your child warm while avoiding overheating.
- Throw on a hat, mittens and boots. A lightweight hat should cover your child’s ears. Mittens keep their little fingers warmer than gloves – lined mittens are recommended over knit. Warm, water-wicking boots will help keep their feet dry and cozy.
- Remove bulky coats and snowsuits when riding in car seats. If you were to get into a car accident, a fluffy jacket would flatten, leaving space between your child and the harness. This could cause them to slip through and be flung from their seat. Buckle them into the seat without the jacket, then tuck a coat or blanket around them, over the straps.
- Keep an emergency bag of winter essentials in your car. In case of an emergency or car trouble you want to be prepared to keep you and your child warm. Have an emergency bag packed with extra blankets, dry clothes, hats, mittens and snacks.
- Try a one-piece sleeper for naps or bedtime. Blankets, pillows and loose bedding can be a suffocation hazard for babies. For babies under 12 months, keep blankets out of the crib. Try a one-piece sleeper or a sleep sack for added warmth. Once your child turns 1, you may use a lightweight blanket tucked under the crib mattress and reaching only as far as the child’s chest.
Now that your baby is bundled, make sure you are, too.
Even if your state isn’t covered in snow, it’s still recommended to take these precautions. A study showed accidental hypothermia was more common in southern states compared to other areas of the country.
Your small children may not be able to indicate they are cold, so look for these symptoms.
Signs of hypothermia include:
- Bright red and cold skin
- Very low energy
- May refuse to eat
- A temperature below 95 degrees
Signs of frostbite include:
- White or grayish-yellow skin
- Unusually firm or waxy feeling skin
If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention.
For more information about frostbite and hypothermia, see the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) infographic linked hereOpens a new window.