Brrr…. it’s f-f-f-freezing out there! No matter which groundhog you listened to, the fact is that we have plenty of below-freezing days left until warm weather arrives. Protecting ourselves with warm clothing is important to anyone at any age when we venture into the cold, but for children, exposure to freezing weather can be downright dangerous.
Infants and children are at far greater risk for frostbite – frozen body tissue – because they lose heat more rapidly through smaller fingers, ears, toes, cheeks, heads and noses. In extreme cold, frostbite can develop within minutes.
If your child’s skin feels hard and waxy, with a white or grayish yellow color, or they complain of aching pain or numbness, take these steps while you call our office:
- Bring your child in out of the cold immediately and remove any wet clothing.
- Do not thaw the frostbitten area if there is a risk it will refreeze before you see your us or urgent care.
- Fill a sink or bowl with warm (not hot) water and immerse or apply to affected parts for about 30 minutes.
- Do not rub the area or rub snow on it.
- Don’t break any blisters that may appear.
- Place cotton balls between fingers and toes after warming, then loosely wrap in sterile dressings.
- Do not let your child walk on frostbitten feet; carry them into our office or urgent care.
Getting your kids outside every day is important to their health and development, but make sure you’re taking the proper steps to avoid frostbite. In the minutes you move your infant from the car to the store, to daycare or to school, remember that those tiny fingers, tiny ears and tiny toes are at risk. It might be easier to just zip up that coat and leave off the mittens and hat, but each second in sub-freezing temperatures is dangerous.
- Dress kids of all ages in loose-fitting, layered clothes and coats, including scarves.
- Make sure toddlers and children are wearing thick socks and insulated boots.
- Mittens and hats should be used every time your infant or child is exposed to cold air, no matter how briefly your child is outside.
Enjoy the winter weather – safely!