Winter Healthcare and Safety
Even winter in Texas can fairly brutal when it comes to severe storms, cold temperatures, and all kinds of physical ailments. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe, warm, and healthy during the upcoming winter. Preparing your children with adequate protective clothing, guarding against severe weather of all types, and protecting yourself and your children from illness and other outside factors can make your winter a good one!
What to Wear
Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat. The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.
Sometimes, too, kids and adults alike just get the winter blues. But if you think that your child might be having symptoms of SAD and/or they just don’t seem to be their usual energized little selves, bring them in to one of our easy-to-get-to locations! Pediatric Clinic of Mesquite now has locations in Mesquite, Sunnyvale, and in Garland, Texas. All locations have the mission of providing the best possible care for all of the heath care needs of our area’s children. Along with routine check-ups and immunization services, all of our locations offer night clinic hours, annual health evaluations, and in-house diagnostic and laboratory services. We love being a step above the rest!
Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm, not hot, water (about the temperature of most hot tubs is recommended, approximately 104 degrees). Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. Do not rub the frozen areas! After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink. If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly may help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.
Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.
Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. The viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of her elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu. Children 6 months of age and up should get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu. It is not too late to get the vaccine! Around 80% of all influenza illness generally occurs in January, February, and March.
Winter Outdoor Activities and Conditions
Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.
The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen and consider using sunglasses.
Fires occur more often and can be more devastating in winter than in any other time of the year. Winter is a time when household fires occur. It is a good time to remember to:
- Buy and install smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Practice fire drills with your children.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector outside bedrooms.
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn, and turn them off when leaving the room or sleeping.
At all Pediatric Clinic locations, our staff works hard to meet the needs of every patient. From immunizations and flu shots to x-rays and ear infections, we commit to providing excellent healthcare services to all families. With many years of professional experience and the most innovative instruments and technology, all three Pediatric Clinic locations can deliver the best services to both well and sick children. Same-day appointments are available at all of our locations, Pediatric Clinic of Mesquite, Pediatric Clinic of Sunnyvale, and Pediatric Clinic of Garland.