MAYWOOD, Ill. – Cold winds, icy rain and, in some places, snow—Old Man Winter has arrived. His entry reminds us to get our furnaces checked and winterize our car, but what about the kids?
“Children are even more vulnerable than adults to cold-weather and winter-related injuries,” said Dr. Karen Judy, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Judy offers some tips to keep kids safe while playing outside in the cold:
“We spend a lot of time in our cars in winter and this can be dangerous if we are not prepared,” Judy said. “In cold weather, parents to need to take additional precautions to keep kids safe while traveling even if it’s just to the grocery store. Never leave kids in a car unattended and keep a winter survival kit in the car with blankets, extra socks and gloves, snacks and a first-aid kit in case the car breaks down or you are stranded in your car."
According to Judy, some of the most common and dangerous winter-related threats are hypothermia and frostbite.
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
“If a child exhibits these symptoms, get them inside immediately, out of wet clothes and into warm, dry clothes. Wrap the child in a blanket and call 911 immediately,” Judy said.
Frostbite is frozen tissue and can cause damage to the skin and often is associated with hypothermia. There are varying degrees of frostbite.
Symptoms of frostbite needing immediate medical attention include:
“Because of low blood supply, fingers, toes, ears and the nose are the most vulnerable to frostbite. Parents should ensure those areas are well-covered,” Judy said.
Frostbite should be taken seriously. The Loyola University Health System Burn Center is one of the leaders in the treatment of frostbite in the Midwest. Still, on average 65 percent of people who are treated for frostbite will have long-term symptoms including pain, abnormal sensations in the extremity and arthritis.
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