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Wisconsin Parent

Winterizing Your Family: Frost not Frostbite!

Nov 22, 2013 04:40PM ● By Guest Contributor
Regardless of when the calendar calls it winter, Wisconsin exhibits winter-like conditions as early as October. And our winters are not for the faint of heart.

However, children still need fresh air and their participation in a school setting guarantees they will be going outside daily unless conditions become extreme, so supply them with basic winter gear: jacket, hat, mittens/gloves, snow pants and boots.

Have your child “test drive” the items beforehand and evaluate:

  • Does the item fit snugly, but allow some room to grow?
  • How easily can your child put on and take off the item? Look for child-friendly zippers, snaps and Velcro. Children in a preschool program will be encouraged to start practicing basic self-dressing skills and elementary-aged students will need to dress and undress for outdoor time independently.
  • For kids under five, mittens are ideal. Their fine motor abilities can’t handle gloves.
  • Waterproof mittens or gloves are a necessity!
  • Choose overall or bib-style snow pants because they are adjustable.
  • Slip-on boots that have an adjustable closure at the top or Velcro closures across the front work best. Avoid boots with laces until your child is a novice at tying their regular shoes. Again, look for waterproof boots with a good lining.Kids Winter CoatsWinter gear shopping may take some effort, but is worth it to ensure children stay safe and comfortable. Hypothermia and frostbite are two conditions that can occur from spending extended periods of time outdoors without the proper protection.
Hypothermia develops when body temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder outdoor temperatures. Children are more susceptible than adults.

Symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Clumsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Body temperature is lower than normal
If you suspect your child is developing hypothermia, call 911 at once. Bring the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and cover with warm, dry blankets.

Frostbite occurs when the skin and outer tissues become frozen, and typically affects the extremities (fingers, toes, ears and nose). Affected areas may become pale, gray and blistered and your child may complain that their skin burns or feels numb.

To counteract frostbite:

  •  Bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of their body in warm (not hot!) water. You can also use a warm washcloth on nose, ears and lips.
  •  Do not rub frozen areas.
  •  After a few minutes, dry the areas and cover the child with clothes and/or a blanket. Offer something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness lasts for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
For more practical information about keeping your family safe during outdoor activities this winter, please consult these Winter Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Candice WagenerCandice Wagener is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about parenting, crafting, travel, and anything involving food! She earned her degree in Journalism and English from the UW-Madison in 1999 and, after more than a decade working in the early childhood field, she is finally utilizing her degree and pursuing her dream of writing full-time. She is a mom to two busy boys and loves living in the Midwest, having officially crossed over to living in Wisconsin longer than she lived in Illinois! She is hesitantly entering into the new millennium by creating a blog, but she is still staying off of Facebook for as long as humanly possible. (Good luck Candice, good luck!)