Preparing Your Family for Winter Weather
You've remembered to winterize your house and your car, but is your family ready? Be sure to prepare your kids and your kitchen for snowy days and long winter nights.
Tips for Playing Outside in Winter
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing infants and children
in several thin layers, such as long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, a
sweater, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens, and a coat. Dress children in
one more layer than you would wear.
Children who play outside may not notice they are getting too cold or even
experiencing hypothermia, the AAP says in its bulletin, "Winter Safety
This can go for adults, too, says Gregg Boughton, coordinator of the
outreach sports medicine program at Gem City Bone & Joint. He's also head
athletic trainer at the Laramie City Community College in Wyoming, where it was
20 below zero the day he talked to WebMD. "The first sign of hypothermia is
shivering," he says. This means it's time to go inside, he adds.
Adults and children can also get the beginnings of frostbite, which destroys
living tissue, without being aware of it. "The first sign is numbness,"
Boughton says. Skin can appear gray, pale, or blistered along with the
numbness, according to the AAP.
Boughton recommends warming slowly -- even in cold water. It will feel warm,
he assures. The AAP recommends not rubbing the affected areas. If the numbness
persists more than a few minutes, call the doctor.
Other tips from the AAP and Boughton for outdoor winter play:
- If your child gets winter nosebleeds from dry heated air, get a humidifier.
Saline nosedrops can also bring relief. If this persists, consult the
- Bathe every other day or every third day, especially in the case of
children. Bathing too often can dry skin.
- Do not drink alcohol outside in cold weather, Boughton urges. "Some
skiers bring along some schnapps and make mistakes or don't see they are too
- Make sure to stay well hydrated. Cold weather inspires us to drink hot
cocoa and coffee, but we still need water, especially with increased physical
- Also when skiing, unless you have been conditioning, he says, don't head
for the Black Diamond slopes. Children especially, the AAP notes, need
professional instruction and must have adult supervision. Remember, the real
aches and pains show up after 24 hours. You may wake up and not be able to get
up, wasting an expensive trip by staying inside the hotel!
- While outside for long periods, bring a couple of power bars.
- If anything, dress a little more lightly than you think you should for
snowshoeing, Boughton says. "You can work up a great sweat." He also
advises wearing fast-drying textiles for all outdoor play. "Gore-tex is the
- If you have cold-induced asthma, Boughton recommends packing along your
inhaler or taking a puff or two before you leave.
- Is there sun glaring on the snow? It can be intense! Wear sunblock in
winter as well as summer.
- If you snowmobile, never go alone and never pull anyone, the AAP says. Stay
on marked trails and travel at safe speeds.
- Never play outside after dark. "It's getting dark earlier,"
Boughton notes. "Be home."
- If a snowy driveway is awaiting you at home, remember all those
shoveling-induced heart attacks that happen every year. More scoops, lighter