Retaining warmth is essential to keeping safe and happy outdoors in cold weather. Frostbite develops when cold temperatures damage skin tissue and blood vessels.
The head and neck lose heat faster than any other part of the body. Cheeks, ears, nose, fingers and toes are the most prone to frostbite. If a child complains of numbness in these areas, or if the skin is blistered, hard to the touch or glossy, it could mean frostbite.
The NSC recommends the following:
What to do if you suspect frostbite:
1. Take the child indoors.
2. Consult a physician.
3. Remove any restrictive clothing that could impair circulation.
4. Warm the frozen body part(s) against the body. (Hold fingers under an arm, for example.)
5. Slightly elevate the affected part to reduce pain and swelling.
6. Place frostbitten part in warm, NOT HOT, water for about 20 minutes.
Make sure your baby is dressed for winter!
What not to do:
1. Do not rub or massage the frostbite area. Frozen tissue is fragile and can be damaged easily.
2. Do not rub with ice or snow.
3. Do not warm frostbitten area with high heat from radiators, fireplaces or stoves.
4. If blisters develop, do not rub or pop them. See physician promptly to help prevent infection.
Susan Silver is a freelance writer from Massachusetts who specializes in childhood safety and parenting issues.