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Winter safety tips for kids

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Here in Indiana, winter weather brings cold temps, dry air, and snow. It also brings a few seasonal challenges to parents. How long is too long to play outside? What can you do for your daughter’s dry skin? Why is your son getting nose bleeds more frequently? Northpoint Pediatrics answers these questions and more with these winter safety tips for children.

Child in winter hat and coat

How long can my kids play outside in the cold weather?

The answer depends on the age of your child, the temperature and wind chills. There is no formula or chart that gives a precise answer. Limit time spent outside by calling for periodic breaks to warm up. And make sure you’re dressing them appropriately for the weather.

What should my children wear when playing outside in winter?

When dressing your child for outside play in the snow think waterproof layers. Give them one more layer than you would wear in the same conditions. Make sure their coat, pants, gloves and boots are waterproof. Always wear a hat. And don’t forget the sunscreen! The sun’s rays can cause sunburn all year long. Want more tips? Read our recent article: Dressing your young child for winter.

How can I keep my child safe when they are sledding, ice skating or skiing? 

Teach your child to never engage in these fun outdoor activities alone and to dress appropriately for the sport. Make sure all equipment fits properly and supervise your children.
  • Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
  • Sled feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, to help prevent head injuries. Avoid steep slopes or hills with trees or fences. 
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Want more tips on winter sports? Check out this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Winter Safety Tips.
Child After Bath

What is frostbite and what should I do if I think my child has some?

Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen and is most common on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. Frostbitten skin will look pale, gray and blistered. The child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb. The American Academy of Pediatrics has the following tips for frostbite treatment:
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. 104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Why does my child get nose bleeds more often in the winter and how can I help?

Winter air has less moisture in it and can cause a host of minor issues such as dry skin and nose bleeds. If your child is experiencing nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child's room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly may also help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.

How can I relieve my child’s dry, chapped skin?

Reduce baths for young children to no more than three times a week and avoid using bubble bath or perfumed soaps. Frequent baths and scented products can dry out the skin, especially in winter. After bath time, gently pat your child dry - don’t rub with the towel. Immediately apply lotion while the skin is still damp. Petroleum jelly is a good option for chapped lips and can be used throughout the day as needed.


Convenient walk-in clinic - even on the weekends

Winter air doesn’t cause colds or viruses, but they are certainly more common this time of year when children are in closer contact with each other. When your child is ill, you can rely on convenient, prompt care at Northpoint Pediatrics. We offer walk-in hours every day - even on the weekends.
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Baby girl with pony tail in white