Cold Weather Considerations for Young Children

As we head into winter our preparations should take into account the changing seasons and the weather that we will potentially see in our areas.  The winter season has its own unique risks that go along with it, and those of us that have children need to think about how to respond if we are put in a survival situation with our children in cold weather.

Moisture Can Kill

If you are stuck in the cold, especially outside in the wind and the cold, but even in a home without heat for prolonged amounts of time, moisture in contact with your body could cause fatal heat loss.  For adults, this is usually a risk if one is walking outside in the snow, working up a sweat.  But for babies that are in diapers, it is an issue even at rest, or asleep.  If you and your child are facing severe cold be sure to check their diaper every 10 to 15 minutes, if not more frequently.  If you are stuck somewhere without a clean diaper to put on afterwards, you will want to encourage your child, even a baby, to urinate as frequently as possible.  If they wet their diaper, it must be removed.  Then you have nothing else to keep on them in order to keep their clothes from getting wet next time.  This is a good reason to try to teach your baby “elimination communication”.

The Younger the Child the Greater the Risk

Because infants and newborn babies have a larger surface area to body weight ratio, they are at a greater risk for hypothermia.  Do not wait until you are cold to take additional steps to protect your infants because you will not be affected by the cold as quickly as they are.

Comfort and Warmth

Whether it is indoors in a home without power and heat for an extended amount of time, stranded in a car on the side of the road in a snow storm, or a wilderness survival scenario, children are likely to not only be losing their body temperature, but also to be scared and uncomfortable.  Without a fire or your heater working your body may be the only source of external heat you have to help keep your child warm.  Put your child in your lap and your arms around them, this will not only provide the usual level of emotional comfort, but it will allow the heat your body is losing to go into them, and vice-versa.  If you have more than one child, put the youngest closest to you, even inside your warming layers while taking care not to smother them.  Then put the older child on the outside, effectively sandwiching the youngest which would lose heat the fastest.

Stay safe this winter so that you can enjoy the cold season with your kids and not have to worry.

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