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Cold weather dangers for kids: Spot frostbite, hypothermia

It's important to get your children inside immediately if you see signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
(Credit: KING)

Cold weather can be more dangerous in more temperate areas like Seattle because residents are not used the frigid conditions.

Winter weather is a dream wonderland for kids. But kids are the worst when it comes to calling it quits while having too much fun.

“Kids, especially little kids, are not very good about telling you if they are starting to feel cold, if their fingers are starting to hurt because they want to stay outside and play. So it's really up to parents to keep a close eye and really monitor their children,” said Dr. Elizabeth Meade, Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Swedish Hospital.

Doctor Meade said this time of year they frequently see injuries involving frostbite and hypothermia.

Hypothermia is when the temperature of the body cools down below normal of about 95 degrees. When that happens, kids can start to become clumsy, lethargic and have trouble talking. If you notice any of those signs, it's important to get your children inside immediately. If you believe they are suffering from hypothermia to call 911. If your body stays at a low temperature for too long it can cause damage and even death.

Also see | 5 ways to prepare for freezing weather around Puget Sound

Frostbite is when the body tissue freezes. It is more common in small exposed areas like fingers and toes, causing serious damage. Anything below 32 degrees can freeze your tissue and cause frostbite - it just depends on how long you are exposed to the cold weather.

You can lose fingers, toes, noses, and earlobes. So it's really important that everything is covered up with gloves, hats, scarves, and earmuffs.

“It can happen pretty quickly especially for kids who are outside playing has her clothes are getting wet and then your body temperature can drop much more rapidly. So it's really important that if the kids are going to be outside playing the cold weather that you check if the clothes are getting what you need to come inside and change into a dry set,” said Dr. Meade.

There are three stages of frostbite. Initially, the affected area will be red and tingly, then gray and painful. The real concern comes when the tissue becomes white and numb. If this happens, put that body part in warm water and get to the doctor right away.

When buying boots for the little ones, make sure they are big enough to fit two pairs of thick socks on their feet.

Also, there is concern about puffy jackets and car seats. Doctor Meade said snowsuits and winter jackets should never be worn under the seat belt. In the event of an accident, the coat will flatten and the seatbelt could be ineffective.

Also see | Tips for driving in the snow and ice

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