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Celebrated as the month of love, February is also known for its cold temperatures - temperatures that drive most adults inside, but invite children out to play in snow and ice. But while these weather conditions provide the landscape for active days and fond memories for little ones, winter also poses additional safety risks.
Researchers found that the most common cause of hospitalized sledding injury from 2003 to 2011 was the child’s sled hitting a tree. Of the 52 children studied, 20 suffered head injury, and three had a permanent disability. So, what can you do to help protect your sledder’s immediate safety and long-term well-being? Have your little one wear a helmet while sledding, and start a dialogue with other parents, encouraging them to do the same. This advice also goes for skiing and snowboarding, applications in which kids and teens should also wear goggles and windproof, water-resistant outerwear.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MN DPS) defines frostbite as the “freezing of skin and extremities on the body.” Noses, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes are most commonly affected by frostbite, and it’s important to remember that nobody is exempt from this risk. Symptoms include pale/gray skin color, numbness, burning, tingling, itching, blisters and skin hardness.
If your does develop frostbite, here’s advice from the MN DPS:
To help prevent frostbite altogether, children should wear loose clothing layers. The three layers everyone should wear, according to WebMD:
Extremely cold weather can cause you to lose heat too fast, and that’s called hypothermia. Symptoms include sleepiness, confusion, clumsiness, shivering, numbness, glassy stare, numbness, apathy, weakness, impaired judgment, incoherent speech and loss of consciousness. It’s important to note that babies, as well as the elderly, are more susceptible to hypothermia.
If your child does develop hypothermia, here’s advice from the MN DPS:
To help prevent hypothermia altogether, Mayo Clinic recommends remembering COLD:
Children need to come inside frequently to warm up. If your child or someone they’re out playing with starts shivering, bring them inside immediately!
Some emergencies - especially hypothermia - might render your child unable to speak, let alone yell. In this case, they’d need an easy-to-use tool to help let others know they’re in danger. By outfitting your child with a SABRE personal alarm, you’re giving them the ability to emit a call for help audible up to 600’ (183M) away.
Any other advice for keeping children safe outdoors? Share your thoughts with @SabreRed on Twitter using the hashtag #WhereTheHeartIs.