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Men's Health

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Winter Wonderland of Safety Tips

Here are some tips on how you can help kids have fun with Frosty while also keeping them safe.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Winter can be downright cold, and with the frosty air settling in for the long-haul, all you want to do is settle in for a long winter's nap. But your kids are ready to make the most of the miserable weather -- with ski trips, sledding, ice hockey, and more.

From teaching your young drivers how to handle snowy roads, to knowing when it's just too darn cold for your kids to venture out, WebMD has some safety tips on how you and your kids can safely enjoy the winter weather.

Keeping Warm

When the kids are ready to head out into the winter wonderland, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Richard Judelsohn, MD, a pediatrician in Buffalo, N.Y., and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics tells WebMD:

  • Layer, layer, layer. "Multiple layers of clothing are more effective at preventing hypothermia than one big snowsuit," he says.
  • Cover the body, head to toe. "Gloves and hats are a must. "For the body parts that aren't covered, like the nose and around the eyes, some protection can be had against the cold by rubbing the area with petroleum jelly, especially if the child's nose is runny -- when the mucus hits cold, dry skin, it can irritate it, and petroleum jelly prevents this," he explains.
  • Enough's enough. "Make sure your kids know that when they start shivering, it's time to come inside and warm up. Use a temptation like hot chocolate to give them incentive to come inside."
  • Fighting frostbite. If your kids do overstay their welcome with Old Man Winter, frostbite can be an issue. "Superficial frostbite, when the skin turns a light gray color, is treated by coming indoors and applying something warm -- not hot -- to the affected area, like a heating pad or warm water. When the skin is frostbitten so that it's numb from the cold, that warrants immediate medical attention."
  • Know when to say no. "Find out the wind chill factor, and if it's more than 20 degrees below zero, it's just too dangerous. That's the time to put your foot down and say, 'No, you're not going outside.'"
  • Can you catch a cold from the cold? While you might think keeping the kids inside during the cold months will keep them healthy, that's not necessarily the case. "Colds are due to viral infections, and viral infections are spread by close contact with others," says Judelsohn -- not the cold weather. "If you're indoors with other people, even if you're warm and toasty, and someone is harboring a viral infection, you're at risk."
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