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Palmetto Health Children's Hospital

7 Richland Medical Park Dr.
Columbia, SC 29203

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Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital offers tips to protect children from extreme cold

HomeNews and Events > Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital offers tips to protect children from extreme cold
1/5/2018
Jason Peck, MD

With a major winter storm causing freezing temperatures, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital wants parents to take extra precautions to protect children from harm caused by extremely cold weather. “Children may be so excited about playing that they don’t want to come inside,” said pediatric intensivist Jason Peck, M.D.

Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and the American Academy of Pediatrics share these tips:

What to wear
  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don't forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat. Choose boots that are large enough to comfortably accommodate two pairs of socks.
  • Remove drawstrings from clothing which may get caught on tree branches or play equipment. Replace with Velcro.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits. See Winter Car Seat Safety Tips from the AAP for help keeping your little ones warm and safe in the car.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant's sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets.  
  • If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby's chest, so the infant's face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.
Hypothermia 
  • Hypothermia develops when a child's temperature falls below normal because of exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. 
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him or her in blankets or warm clothes.
Frostbite
  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.  Skin first becomes red and tingly, then gray and painful and finally white, cold and hard without pain.  Blistering occurs after the skin thaws.
  • Prevent frostbite by dressing in layers, covering all body parts when outside in cold weather. Bring children indoors if clothing gets wet. 
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of his or her body in warm (not hot) water.  104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen when you begin rewarming because as the skin thaws pain occurs.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas. 
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him or her something warm to drink and seek medical attention immediately, particularly if blistering occurs.

About Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is South Carolina’s first children's hospital and has more than 150,000 children’s visits each year. It offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children and has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center. With more than 350 professionals who work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters.

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