Temperatures below the freezing point can be dangerous for children. Skin that is not properly covered or protected can freeze quickly. Children are at greater risk for getting frostbite because they lose heat from their skin faster than adults do.
To avoid frosbite, check the temperature and wind chill factor. Make sure that your kids are well dressed when they go out in the cold. Also make sure that they come inside regularly.
What are the symptoms of frostbite?
- The affected skin area will be firm to the touch, waxy, and white or purplish
- The affected skin area feels numb, with a persistent burning sensation
- Usually affects areas that are exposed to the cold such as cheeks, nose, ears, fingers and toes
What is the treatment for frostbite?
- Go indoors right away
- Remove wet clothing
- Warm the frozen areas gradually with your hands or warm (not hot) water. Make sure that the skin is not re-exposed to cold since damage could become permanent.
- Avoid all sources of direct heat such as an oven or fireplace; this could burn skin that is already sensitive
- Never rub or massage the affected area
- If feet are affected, don’t let your child walk. Carry him/her, if necessary
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
How to prevent frostbite?
- If the temperature is below -25°C, don’t let your child go outside to play
- Dress your child in layers, preferably in woven fibres, such as wool or fleece
- Make sure your child’s head, ears, nose, hands and feet are well covered
- If possible, choose mittens instead of gloves
- Make sure that your child never wears wet clothes or boots. Change wet socks, gloves and mittens immediately.
- Bring your child indoors at regular intervals and inspect fingers, toes, cheeks, nose, and ears for signs of frostbite
- Give your child a warm snack or meal such as hot chocolate or soup, to warm up when he/she comes inside
Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: April, 2020