It is the worst snowstorm of the winter, temperatures are hovering near zero, the wind chill is at 14, winds are blasting arctic air at 40 miles per hour. To top things off, your kids are running through the house chanting alternatively: “It’s snoooooowing,” and “We want to go out!”
The temptation to let them go is attractive, but as a parent, their chances of doing so are DOA.
While temperatures are tricky, the wind chill factor is a good way to measure if and how long the kids can go out.
Photo by Flickr user chefranden
Wind chill readings of 30 and above means that it’s okay for the kids to go out, but check how long. Each person’s tolerance to cold is different, and hypothermia can attack quickly.
When the wind chill is between 20 and 30, it is cold but still okay for them to go out. When they are out in higher and less threatening wind chill readings, check on them often. You may want them to come in every 45 minutes or so to warm up a bit. While they are inside, check them and be sure that hands and feet are not abnormally cold, toddlers are not fussing without cause and nobody is shivering. If any of them exhibits these signs, you ought to keep them inside.
Should the wind chill number go below twenty, it is best to keep them in. Unprotected skin can get frostbite quickly, and hypothermia is more likely to occur as well.
Following are more tips for keeping your kids warm and safe in foul winter weather.
- Dress children in layers. Layers keep moisture off their skin. Make sure to remove wet layers so your kid remains dry and warm.
- Outerwear should repel moisture, fleece, wool and other fabrics that protect from moisture. Cotton is a poor choice because it acts like a wick for moisture.
- Kids are not completely dressed for winter outdoors if they are not wearing a hat.
- Cover all extremities. The nose, ears, hands and feet must be covered to protect against frostbite.
- Kids who wear contact lenses are at risk of their eyes drying out from the wind and cold. A combination of rewetting drops and sunglasses from Vision Direct will help to keep your child’s eyes from drying out in winter.
- Have the children come in for breaks and inspection.
- Once inside, remove all wet clothing. If they are going back out, only give them dry clothing.
Since the two greatest dangers for children outside in winter are hypothermia and frostbite, parents need to know the symptoms of each.
- Children are shivering
- Skin has a pallor
- Extremities are bluish in color and cold to the touch
If these are there only symptoms, giving your child warm and dry shelter should take care of it. But, if they are slurring their speech or are drowsy or confused put them in warm dry clothes, wrap them in a blanket and call 911.
Frostbite is as if the cold burned the skin. Symptoms of frostbite include:
- Gray or white skin
- Skin that feels as if it’s burning or numb
If you suspect your child has frostbite, immerse the affected body part in warm — but not hot — water. Do not rub the area. A warm drink is helpful in getting your child warmer. Call for medical attention.