This is the age when children start to trudge through the snow in their bulky snowsuits, experiencing and exploring the frigid wetness of winter for the first time. Dr. Swanson explains how parents can prepare their kids while still giving them the freedom to have fun.
Winter Safety Tip #1: Keep them dry.
- One of the biggest safety precautions parents can take is to make sure the kids aren’t wet from snow or sweat, which increases their risk for problems like frostbite and, more extremely, hypothermia. “Sometimes they won’t tell you if their feet are freezing. They’re outside running, excited, trying to keep up their siblings,” Swanson said. “They might not be listening to their bodies.”
- Dress toddlers in layers. Start with a bottom layer of nylon or another material that will stop moisture, not something like cotton that absorbs. Then layer with warmer materials, like wool or fleece.
Winter Safety Tip #2: Prevent frostbite.
- Frostbite can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s definitely something to look out for with toddlers, especially when windburn and wetness are involved.
- The ears, nose, feet and hands are the areas most susceptible and should be adequately covered – keep watch!
- If you see white patches on their skin, it could be the beginning of frostbite. Bring them inside and call your doctor immediately.
Winter Safety Tip #3: Be aware of hypothermia.
- If your child’s temperature falls below normal due to extreme cold and/or wet clothes, hypothermia develops.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents to look for lethargic and clumsy behavior or even slurred speech.
- If you suspect your child is hypothermic, bring him/her indoors, remove any wet clothes, and wrap in warm clothes and blankets. Call 911 immediately.