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Keep The Kids Safe On Your Winter Holiday With These Tips

Holiday season is fast approaching, and as always, it’s at this time of the year where we’ll start to fantasise about snowy vacation destinations and white Christmases, away from the stifling Singapore heat. If you’re thinking of taking off on a winter vacation with your little ones, here are some essential tips to bear in mind to keep your children both warm and safe.

Dress them appropriately

Dressing warmly may be the most basic of winter precautions, but it should not be taken lightly. It is of extreme importance to layer your child up in warm AND appropriate clothing to fight the low winter temperature. Ensure that your child is dressed in thermal underwear or long johns underneath the layers, and that delicate areas like the head, neck, ears, and hands are well covered. Pay extra attention to clothing hazards like scarves and hoodie strings that could potentially serve as choking hazards. Replace strings with alternatives like Velcro or other forms of snaps, and use a neck warmer instead of a scarf. Hats, warm socks, and mittens are a must!

Use sunscreen

While the warm rays of the sun may be welcoming amongst the winter cold, keep in mind that it is still possible—or even easier—to get sunburned in the winter. The sun’s rays can reflect off snow, and when you’re engaging in winter sports high up in the mountains, you’re also closer to the sun’s UV rays. Thus, it is important to emphasise the use of sunscreen on exposed areas like the face and hands.

Check on your child regularly

Infants and younger children may find it difficult to identify when they’re feeling cold, and thus, it is up to the parents to check on your child and ensure that he’s not falling victim to winter injuries like frostnip, frostbite, and hypothermia. Regulate the time that your child spends outdoors in the cold by bringing him indoors every once in a while. Warm him up with warm food and liquids like soups. Ensure that your child’s clothing are not wet at any point in time, and if they are, do change them to dry ones immediately. Watch out for early signs of frostnip or frostbite by checking that his or her nose, ears, toes, and fingers are not overly red.

Keep him hydrated

Dry winter weather makes winter nosebleeds a common phenomenon among children. Keep your child sufficiently hydrated to tackle the low humidity conditions during winter. In addition to drinking plenty of water, place a cold-air humidifier in the room, or use saline nose drops to keep his nose moist.

Watch out for signs of frostnip and frostbite

It is key to know, and be able to correctly identify, the warning signs of frostnip and frostbite, as leaving these symptoms unattended can escalate to serious complications for your child’s health. Frostbite is the damage to parts of the body from exposure to freezing conditions, usually below 0°C. Frostbites typically occur on the fingers, toes, ears, nose, chin, and cheeks, and require immediate medical assistance. Frostnip, on the other hand, is the milder form of frostbite, and can be treated at home.

Some causes of frostbite or frostnip include:

  • Exposure to low temperatures for prolonged periods of time
  • Inadequately dressed for low temperatures
  • Being exposed to windy weather that causes rapid cooling of the skin and body
  • Having reduced blood flow due to overly-tight clothing, e.g. gloves, socks, boots

Some symptoms of frostnip are skin that looks red or tingling or numb sensation on the skin. For frostbite, watch out for skin that looks red, burning, tingling, or numb sensation on the skin, hard and swollen skin, blisters or sores on the skin (severe frostbite), or blackened skin, pain, and infection (gangrene).

How to treat frostnip at home:

  • Bring your child indoors immediately.
  • Put him or her in dry clothes.
  • Warm his or her skin with warms towels or blankets. Or soak the area in warm water (38° to 41°C) until feeling returns to the skin. Ensure that the water is not too hot or scalding, and do not soak the area for more than 30 minutes.
  • Do not rub or massage the skin.
  • Do not use direct heat, such as a heating pad or fire as it can burn the skin.

If warming the skin does not improve the situation, or if the symptoms escalate to that of a frostbite, seek for medical assistance immediately. When frostbite occurs, call for the ambulance or seek medical assistance immediately.

While waiting for medical assistance for frostbite, you can do the following:

  • Bring your child indoors immediately.
  • Calm and comfort your child.
  • If frostbite occurs at your child’s feet, carry him or her. Do not let your child walk.
  • Put him or her in dry clothes.
  • Warm his or her skin with warms towels or blankets. Or soak the area in warm water (38° to 41°C) until feeling returns to the skin. Ensure that the water is not too hot or scalding, and do not soak the area for more than 30 minutes.
  • Wrap the warmed areas to prevent any further injury. Do not let the warmed areas freeze again.
  • Do not rub or massage the skin.
  • Do not use direct heat, such as a heating pad or fire as it can burn the skin.
  • Do not put snow on the skin.
  • Place clean cotton or gauze between affected fingers and toes.
  • Do not touch any blisters.

Be extra sensitive to the early signs of both conditions, and teach your child on how to be aware of them as well. Symptoms like tingling and numbness will only be known to your child, and it certainly helps if he is able to identify these sensations and report to you when they occur.

Keep him safe when engaging in winter sports

Exciting winter sports like snowboarding, skiing, and sledding may be good family bonding activities, but they also classify as risky sports that cause substantial numbers of accidents and injuries.

Here are some ways to keep your child safe when doing winter sports:

  • Ensure that he is in good physical condition BEFORE engaging in the activity.
  • Take frequent breaks, and ensure that your child is hydrated DURING the activity.
  • Make sure that your child’s ski/snowboard equipment is perfectly functional, and fits him properly.
  • Always wear a helmet specifically meant for skiing or snowboarding. Bicycle helmets are not an option!
  • Always wear sunglasses or goggles to avoid burning your eyes.
  • Ski or snowboard on slopes well within your child’s limits.
  • Never let your child ski or snowboard unsupervised.
  • Be well-trained and equipped both for you and your children. Parents should be adequately trained and confident in executing the sport before bringing your children along to try them. It will definitely make the situation easier to manage if you don’t have to worry about yourself, on top of having to watch out for your child.

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