How to Avoid Frostbite in Young Kids

How to Avoid Frostbite in Young Kids

Winter can be a fun time with your children – snowmen, snowball fights and igloos in the backyard can be a great time for kids of all ages. But it’s also important to dress your children properly for the cold weather to prevent illness and of course, frostbite.

Frostbite literally means “frozen body tissue.” This usually means the skin, however frostbite can also affect deeper tissue as well and should be handled quickly and carefully to avoid causing permanent tissue damage. There are actually different stages of frostbite and as parents you should be aware of each and the signs that come with each phase to be able to treat it right away.

Frostnip is often the first and most mildest form of frostbite. It will typically affect the areas most exposed to cold: cheeks, nose, fingers, toes and even your ears, causing the affected areas to become red, numb and tingly. Frostnip can typically be treated at home simply by getting your child indoors and warming the affected areas.

Frostbite itself will have much more serious symptoms and if you are allowing your child to play outdoors for extended periods of time in the cold, you should know what to look for: white, waxy skin, numbness to the affected areas or a hardness to the skin. Don’t try to treat the problem at home – medical attention should be sought immediately.

If your child has been affected by frostbite, a trip to the hospital is necessary. If the feet are affected, carry your child do NOT let them walk if you suspect their feet have been affected. Be sure you have put your child into warm, dry clothing before transporting them for treatment.

In the event that you can’t get your child to the ER right away or if you are waiting for an ambulance to take you, there are a few things you can do to administer first aid while you wait:

  • Put frozen skin into WARM not hot water. If you aren’t able to access warm water, wrap your child in warm blankets or use your body heat to cover the affected area.
  • Do not use a heating pad on the area.
  • Do not thaw the frozen skin if medical treatment is not immediately accessible – thawing skin that can potentially be refrozen can have serious, negative effects.

Frostbite can be prevented simply enough – keep an eye on the weather if your child is playing outside in the winter. Dress them in layers and be sure to cover as much of the skin as possible with hats that cover the ears, scarves, gloves and boots and have your child come in regularly during play time to warm up a bit.