Fall is, in many ways, a warm-up to winter itself. Before tumbling leaves become blizzards of snow and crisp weather dips into freezing temperatures, people can get an idea of what to expect prior to the dawn of winter. Before Jack Frost begins nipping at your nose, now is the time to prepare yourself and your children for some of the potential dangers that lie ahead. According to the National Weather Service, there were 43 cold-related deaths in the U.S. in 2014 alone. Given everything that can go wrong during a particularly cold day, it’s important that you take steps to protect your children. Here are just a few tips that should keep you and yours warm, cozy and, perhaps best of all, totally safe:

Dress children properly
This tip might seem like a given, but not enough parents know how to properly dress their children for cold weather conditions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should always dress children in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same weather conditions. All children need to wear mittens, a hat, gloves and boots. However, don’t think that you need to place your child under several layers of clothing. The AAP said that just a few thin layers are enough to keep most children warm and dry. For especially young children, avoid letting them sleep with quilts or blankets, as these can obstruct airways. Instead, dress them in one-piece sleepers.

Always sled with caution
Every year, as more snow gathers on the ground, you’ll see children flock outside in droves to spend the day sledding up and down nearby hills. Though it’s less immediately dangerous than other winter activities like skiing, snowboarding or riding on a snowmobile, sledding still requires proper safety precautions. Helmets are a must for sledding. Opt for hockey over bicycle helmets because these devices are built for more specific winter conditions, according to the journal Pediatrics & Child Health. You also want to ensure that the child’s sled has proper handholds and doesn’t feature any sharp edges, as these can further injure a child in case of an accident. Finally, make sure your child sleds in an area without trees, buildings or other obstructions.

Children love sledding, but they must always be careful.
Children love sledding, but they must always be careful.

Frostbite and hypothermia
It’s not only falls or sled accidents that pose the most danger to young children. Frostbite is also a regular occurrence, which happens when prolonged exposure to cold damages the skin. domain check free According to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, frostbite can set in just under 30 minutes depending on specific conditions. The most common symptoms of frostbite are:

  • Blistering skin.
  • Numbness in the extremities.
  • Waxy skin.
  • Red or bluish-white skin.
  • Stiff muscles leading to clumsiness.

Hypothermia is also a distinct possibility. This condition occurs when the cold outside causes the body’s internal temperature to drop below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Mayo Clinic. While there is no set timeframe for the onset of hypothermia, Scientific American noted that colder weather expedites the process. Frequent symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Confusion.
  • Hunger.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Lack of coordination.

In infants and smaller children, hypothermia can also present with red skin or a weak cry.

Seeking medical assistance
If you noitce your child might be suffering from any cold-related injuries or ailments, it’s important to get them medical care immediately. Fortunately, there are CareWell Urgent Care locations all across the Eastern seaboard. With a team of seasoned professionals at each unique facility, CareWell can treat any issue and get your child back to enjoying winter in no time.