As temperatures remain below freezing and the Baltimore area prepares for blizzard conditions, medical experts say there are steps parents can take to ensure their children are able to play outside safely.
Dr. Scott Krugman, the Chairman of Pediatrics at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, said that keeping kids bundled and dry while playing outside is key for staying safe in cold temperatures. He said when layers become cold, it's time to come inside and dry off.
Dr. Krugman says that our bodied lose more heat when wet, which can lead to frostbite. He recommends wearing several layers, including one that is not too permeable close to the skin.
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The first layer should be a warm material that's not going to get wet quickly, such as long underwear or cold sports gear. Top layers should be waterproof such as jackets and snow pants.
The intense winds associated with blizzard conditions means wind chills will be low. Dr. Krugman recommends waiting until the blizzard conditions and active snow subsides before allowing kids to play outside.
Bundle up with face masks, gloves, hats and scarves so there's no open skin exposed. If you see red or white patches on your child's skin, they need to come inside and warm up.
"Wait until the wind stops and the snow is done, then let them go out and have fun," he said.
Dr. Krugman said that most snow related injuries are not because of cold temperatures. Kids tend to bounce back from the cold quickly. Sledding and playing in the snow seem to cause more injuries.
Parents should make sure they are smart with supervision, he said. Common injury prevention should still be exercised regardless of snow conditions. When sledding, be careful of trees and other debris. Also, kids should not play in the street, even if cars are not expected to drive by.
As your child is more active (and depending on the outdoor temperature and wind), he or she may need to unzip or even remove some of these layers to stay comfortable.
Some ideas for outdoor activity include:
- A family walk where you make a game out of spotting different animals or decorations
- Playing in the snow
- Hide and Seek
- Ice skating, sledding, skiing or snowboarding
For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit kidshealth.org.