Montana’s transitional weather during fall-to-winter and winter-to-spring can be unpredictable, with quick temperature drops and snow. When temperatures drop, children need extra attention to stay warm, safe and healthy. Young children are less likely to recognize when they are cold and more likely to lose body heat quickly due to their smaller size. Here are some tips to protect children when the thermometer dips:
- Think layers. Put several layers of clothing on your child and make sure their head, neck and hands are covered. Dress babies and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear.
- Beware clothing hazards. Scarves and hood strings can strangle smaller children so use other clothing to keep them warm.
- Check in on warmth. Tell children to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Then keep watching them and checking in. They may prefer to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.
- Use sunscreen. Children and adults can still get sunburn in the winter. Sun can reflect off the snow, so apply sunscreen.
- Install alarms. More household fires happen during the winter so make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
- Get equipped. Children should always wear helmets when snowboarding, skiing, sledding or playing ice hockey. Any sports equipment should be professionally fitted.
- Teach technique. It takes time to master fun winter activities like sledding, so make sure children know how to do the activity safely.
- Prevent nosebleeds. If your child suffers from minor winter nosebleeds, use a cold air humidifier in their room. Saline nose drops can help keep their nose moist.
- Keep them hydrated. In drier winter air kids lose more water through their breath. Keep them drinking and try giving them warm drinks and soup for extra appeal.
- Watch for danger signs. Signs of frostbite are pale, grey or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes. If you think your child has frostbite bring the child indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think your child has hypothermia call 9-1-1 immediately.
Sources: Save the Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Health System