Written by Richard Lander, MD
Winter is here and as the song says, “baby it’s cold outside”. Here are a few quick tips to avoid some health issues commonly associated with winter.
First of all, make sure your children are dressed appropriately for the cold weather. That doesn’t just mean a warm coat or layering of clothes.
Since heat is lost from the top of our heads, have your child put on a hat on their head. Also, put a scarf or face mask and be sure to protect hands and fingers from getting wet and/or cold.
Gloves help protect the skin on hands which tends to get dry.
When skin becomes too dry, your child’s hands may become cracked making the skin more susceptible to infection.
Be aware of frostbite. This is caused when the skin has become so cold that the circulation to the fingers is compromised.
The skin becomes pale or grayish in color and may blister. Next your child may lose feeling in her fingers. If your are worried that this has happened, place your child’s hands in warm water, about 104 degrees, which is average bath water.
Then carefully pat them dry and place them on dry warm cloths. If this happens to their nose, use warm, wet compresses initially, but be careful not to rub and then use warm dry compresses.
Often playing outside in the cold weather leaves your child’s clothes wet. Take off the wet clothes as soon as they return inside, put on warm, dry clothes and drink warm liquids, such as soup, hot chocolate.
If you and your children are spending extended periods of time outside, remember to keep yourself hydrated; drink lots of fluids.
There are many outdoor activities to enjoy during the winter months, such as skiing, ice skating and sledding.
Make sure your equipment (skis, snowboards, blades on the ice skates or the runner of the sled) are in good condition and that your children have not outgrown them.
If they are taller this year you might need longer ski poles. Perhaps their feet have grown since last year and their ski boots or ice skates are too small.
Does their helmet still fit properly?
If the children are going to use a sled, make sure the the steering works and tell them to go down feet first, not head first.
Parents, when sending your children to the bus stop remember that it is dark and cold outside. Remind your children to stay on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street.
A brightly colored scarf, hat or gloves is a great way to ensure that they are visible in the dark.
Winter is a fun time of the year. Be safe and be smart.
Dr. Lander has been practicing pediatrics for 32 years in New Jersey and is the immediate past chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Administration and Practice Management. He says if he had to do it all over again he wouldn’t hesitate to be a pediatrician