At our clinic, we see a lot more patients in severely cold weather for a number of reasons. Many of those patients could avoid potential problems by paying attention to some simple tips in the Winter. Here are some easy rules to follow when the temperature is dropping:
1. Dress warmly, in lots of layers of clothes. Try long underwear beneath pants and a turtleneck underneath a sweater and coat.
2. Avoid cotton clothing – it doesn’t keep you as warm as wool, flannel or other “winter fabrics.” Waterproof pants and jackets are excellent choices for a top layer for snow activities because they don’t let the wetness reach your other clothes.
3. No matter what fabric you choose, or how many layers you pile on, no cold-weather ensemble is complete without warm socks, boots, gloves and a hat. Most of the heat of the body is lost through the scalp, so a hat is very important. Having gloves on will also help avoid heat loss.
4. Make sure to feed your kids a snack before they go outside in really cold weather. The calories will give their bodies energy to stay warm in the cold weather.
5. If you are playing in the snow, watch out for sledding hills that are too steep, are covered with trees or rocks and those that are too close to busy roads. Sledding accidents can cause broken bones, head and neck trauma and internal bleeding.
6. Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards with indoor heaters.
7. Teach children the warning signs for frostbite and frostnip. Kids can sometimes ignore the warning signs when they’re having fun.
a. Frostbite occurs mostly on fingers, toes, ears, noses and cheeks. The area will become very cold and turn white or yellowish-gray. If you notice frostbite, go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
b. Frostnip is an early warning sign of frostbite that leaves the skin white and numb. If you notice this, remove any wet clothing and immerse effected body parts in warm (not hot!) water until sensation returns. Never use hot water!
8. Going on a road trip into potential snow? Make sure you pack a first-aid kit, as well as extra blankets and gloves for everyone in the car.
9. Whether or not you’re going out, make sure you wash your hands regularly throughout the winter. Respiratory ailments and viruses, like the flu, spread easily in the winter because people stay indoors – in much closer contact than the rest of the year.