Even though temperatures are very chilly in much of North America, kids will be kids – they always want to play outside!!!! It’s important to keep little ones safe in the elements, while letting them get their fill of the chilly fresh air that only a winter day can give. Here are some things to keep in mind when letting little ones frolic in the snow.
1) Dress appropriately!!!!! See our blog on winter clothing by clicking HERE.
2) Be Safe – Don’t dress kids in clothes that are too long or not secure: loose articles or rogue drawstrings can get stepped on, tangled or snag somewhere that can cause a child to trip, choke, become exposed, etc. Also – choose very bright colors so that you can keep track of the little ones in the white snow.
3) Take breaks Let the kiddos run amuck for set periods of time. 30 to 60 minute batches of outdoor playtime are usually alright. After your set times, though, make sure children come in and warm up! Use the break time to enjoy hot drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate, and to check for signs of frostnip and frostbite.
4) What are Frostnip and Frostbite? According to scholatstic.com – “Frostnip is like a warning sign for frostbite, and occurs when cold temperatures damage the skin and blood vessels. Frostnip usually affects the face, feet or fingertips and causes numbness and may turn skin white or blue-white.” Frostbite is “literally the freezing of the body — from the skin in! Frostbite can make skin feel waxy, frozen, and numb, and can cause blisters. In extreme cases, blood may stop flowing to the area and permanent damage can be done to the nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and even bones. Plus, once an area is frostbitten, it is more susceptible to frostbite in the future.” What are the warning signs for either? Feeling pain or numbness in the fingers, toes, nose, ears, or any other body part are red flags that the kids need to come in out of the cold.
5) Fighting the Frostbite/Nip – What do you do if you suspect that your child may be experiencing symptoms?
a) Immediately remove wet or tight clothing from the area
b) Have the child wiggle their fingers, toes and flex their hands and feet
c) For frostnip, place the area “in very warm water (just over 100 degrees) until the area flushes and turns pink. For other areas, apply warm towels or cover him up with blankets and let him cozy up with lots of warm drinks.” (scholastic.com)
d) For frostbite, “don't warm him up by the fire or with really hot water bottles or heating pads, as frostbitten skin is easily burned. Don't pop any blisters, and if there are a lot of blisters or a blister bigger than a nickel, call your pediatrician right away. Usually, the same techniques used to warm up frostnip will adequately treat frostbite as well, but call your doctor if your child's skin blisters or swells upon warming up, or if it doesn't warm up at all.” (scholastic.com)
6) The most important? NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED! Whether they’re playing hide and seek, building igloos, sledding, ice skating, etc., a responsible adult is always the best just of when enough is enough, and on how to make a most excellent snow experience a safe one.
– Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Sledding.jpg