Frigid temps tough on tots .... and adults
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA, Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Monday, 06 January 2014 10:03
Is it safe to let children play outside in the coming frigid weather, or even walk to a nearby school, sports event or lesson?
|Shane Rashley of Bowling Green, adjusts the hood of a jacket for his daughter Katelynn, 9, while sledding in Bowling Green on Friday. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green pediatrician Mike Lemon offered a list of considerations that parents need to keep in mind.
First, are a couple of pre-suppositions:
“We’re presuming the child has no significant medical issues such as a chest issue” like bronchitis, pneumonia or “a lung disease or heart disease.” For those children, exposure to the elements should be avoided entirely.
For healthy children:
“We’re assuming they’re going to be appropriately dressed in multiple layers,” which keep the body much warmer than a single heavy layer of clothing.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, since sun on snow actually causes sunburn.
“Use sunscreen on exposed areas if you’re going to be outside for a significant amount of time, although probably nobody will be in this weather.”
Don’t forget the Chapstick for exposed lips.
Children going outside to play in the snow should be sure to be reasonably well hydrated, Lemon added. “The cold air sucks the water right out of us. Humidity is a lot lower in cold temperatures” so drink plenty of water.
Length of time outside is the critical factor.
“They just can’t be out very long when it’s minus-10, minus-15 or minus-god-knows-what kind of temperatures we’re expecting.
“I would suggest you think in 15-minute increments” and that a parent maintain a vigilant eye on the clock so they don’t get distracted.
Actually, Lemon advises parents, “you should be outside with your children. That way it will be obvious” if they are getting too cold or at all wet, which is never safe and can happen to exposed skin as well as covered skin when the child sweats and then gets chilled.
Becoming over-tired is another danger of extreme cold. “It’s a lot more effort running around in the snow when it’s cold, and the child is more likely to get tired, which means they’re more likely to get hurt.”
Just down the street from Wood County Hospital is the Conneaut sledding hill, which has been doing a landmark business since Friday when the sun came out and wind died down a bit.
“If they’re sledding and it’s too crowded, don’t go down,” Lemon warned, adding that anyone sledding really should be wearing a bike helmet.
But sledding, too, becomes increasingly dangerous as the thermometer drops, causing scary wind-chill issues.
Much of the advice for children can also be applied to older individuals, and also most adults in general.
With record-breaking low temperatures possible, most any exposure to the elements should be limited, said Amy Oberhaus, nursing director at Wood County Hospital.
“When it’s this cold, we try to stay inside at all times.”
Still, “everybody’s different,” Oberhaus said. “As long as they can tolerate the exposure,” healthy adults can go outdoors while being mindful of conditions.
Anyone with a heart condition is likely to have more difficulty and should proceed with caution. Once outside, things to watch for are hypothermia, frostbite and pneumonia, evidenced by signs like pain in the extremities, numbness and tingling.
If symptoms present themselves, the next step should be seeing a medical provider, Oberhaus said.
When going outside, people should dress in layers and minimized exposed skin, with special protection for extremities with insulated gloves and boots and thermal socks, said Dr. Michael McCrea, medical director of Wood County Hospital.
Shoveling snow can become a threatening activity during such extreme weather, McCrea said. Anyone doing so should dress warmly, take regular breaks and use proper form — lifting with the legs rather than the back.
(Sentinel staff writer Alex Aspacher contributed to this report.)
Last Updated on Monday, 06 January 2014 10:06