How to Safely Send Your Kids Outside in Winter
We are now in the peak of winter and must be prepared both in preventing accidents as well as knowing how to respond if, G-d forbid, any accidents do occur.
There are several ways to prepare children for the winter in order to keep them safe while outside:
- Dress them in bright clothes- this way, they will stand out in the evening and when the sun is hidden behind the clouds.
- Try to purchase clear umbrellas for your children so that they can see where they’re going.
- Ensure that their scarfs and hats don’t cover their eyes, especially for young children that don’t manage so well with winter apparel.
- Make sure your children know only to cross the street in lit areas and not to run while crossing as they may slip in puddles or ice on the road.
In the house:
- Change wet clothing as soon as possible.
- If you can, heat your home before the children arrive.
- Keep in mind that the desired room temperature in the winter is 25 degrees (even if you have a baby at home).
- Using either an air conditioner or a radiator is a great way to heat the house. Beware of gas stoves- there is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Put something in front of heaters or radiators to prevent burns.
- Make sure that your smoke detector is working. It can save your life if you fall asleep with the fireplace or stove running.
- Make sure that the increased use of heaters in the winter does not cause a fuse to short circuit in your house.
- Where possible, make sure that the house is well ventilated to ensure that family members do not catch infections from one and other.
If, G-d forbid, one of your family members has touched the heater or hot water spilled on them you must wash the burn with tap water for 10-20 minutes and then place aloe on the burn. Under no circumstances should you place anything else on the burn. As a general rule, for minor burns you should go to see the family doctor for treatment. If there are blisters or bleeding, or if the burn covers a large area of the body, you should seek immediate medical assistance and go to the emergency room for treatment. The main damage from burns is not the pain caused by the heat, but the infections that can develop.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
The human body functions within a limited temperature range. Proper function of body cells demands a standard temperature between 36.5 – 37.5 degrees Celsius. Cellular metabolism is best carried out when the body is within the standard temperature range. A deviation of two degrees in either direction disturbs regular body function.
When the body becomes too cold, the body works to preserve body heat by reversing the same mechanisms:
Contraction of peripheral blood vessels: Contraction/collapse of blood vessels directs the body heat from the skin towards the internal area of the body, to conserve internal body warmth.
Skin gets ‘goose bumps’: The hairs on the surface of the skin bristle in order to capture air between the hairs and create a kind of ‘insulation’.
Increased heat generation: Shivers and secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which cause immediate amplification of metabolism and heat generation.
Hypothermia: A state of reduced internal body temperature lower than 35 degrees Celsius.
Causes of Hypothermia:
Brief exposure to an extremely cold environment.
Extensive exposure to a cold environment.
Damage to brain centers responsible for regulation of body heat.
Diseases causing aggravation of hypothermia.
Symptoms and Complaints:
Loss of balance
Slowness of Thought/ Apathetic
Arrhythmia accompanying progression of hypothermia (until bradycardia and ventricular fibrillation)
Remove the patient from cold environment.
Remove damp clothing.
Dry and cover the patient.
Gently lay patient down, avoiding sudden movements.
Preliminary treatment in accordance with ABC.
Monitor heart rate.
Place heated blankets around the head, neck, chest and groin.
Frostbite is freezing of the skin tissue as a result of extreme environmental cold. The freezing process is accompanied by the formation of tiny ice crystals inside the tissues, and the transfer of water from inside the cells to the inter-cellular cavity. When the ice crystals expand, they cause cell destruction, while the concentration of electrolytes inside the cells rises and causes additional cell damage. The ice crystals damage blood vessels and tend to reduce, or stop, the flow of blood to organs.
Symptoms and Complaints:
A background of cold in the extremities changes to increasing pain, which eventually decreases until the entire area loses feeling.
The skin is red in the first stage, and during progression changes to white or gray.
With severe burns – the skin is hard to the touch and inflexible.
Refrain from heating the affected limb in an environment which is likely to cause recurrent freezing.
The victim can take pain relievers before thawing.
Place the frozen body part in lukewarm water – add hot water according to need to maintain lukewarm temperature.
Do not massage the damaged area.
Bandage the body part in a loose, dry sterile dressing.
Raise the injured body part.
In the event of an Emergency, Dial 1221