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Tips for Keeping Your Child Warm This Winter 

Attorney Nicole Santo

There is no doubt that we have been spoiled by the unseasonably warm December temperatures. However, this first week of January has demonstrated that winter is returning with a vengeance. With children going back to school after the holiday season, some of whom have long walks to the bus stop, it is important to keep some tips in mind for keeping children safe in the cold.

First, it is important to dress children in layers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the younger the child, the smaller the ratio of his body mass to body surface, allowing more heat to escape through the skin. This means that it is harder for children to regulate temperature than adults. Kids should dress in three layers. The first layer closest to the skin should be soft and thin.  The second layer should be a cotton layer or sweater that keeps your child warm, but also allows him to move comfortably in the classroom.  The third and final layer should be a jacket that is tightly woven, water repellant, and wind resistant, to seal out the cold. 

Next, it is essential that you also keep your child’s neck warm, since breathing in cold air can be harsh on his lungs. Do not forget to add a neck warmer, or short scarf (long scarves can be choking hazards), before sending your child off to school. Finally, be mindful of your child’s ears, nose, toes and fingers. These body parts are farthest away from the heart, which means it is more difficult to keep them warm. A hat that covers your child’s ears and mittens (as opposed to gloves) that keep your child’s fingers close together will help to keep him warm.

If your child has been exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time, he could be at risk for hypothermia or frostbite. Symptoms of hypothermia include flushed skin, shivering and lethargy. Signs of frostbite can include white/pale skin, numbness or blisters, and most commonly occurs on the nose, fingers and toes. If you observe any of these symptoms, you must get your child inside and call the doctor or go to your nearest urgent care center or emergency room. We hope you and your family stay safe, warm and healthy this winter season!