Doctors warn don't let the frost bite your kids

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – As temperatures get colder and colder, the time it takes to get your kids ready for school on takes longer and longer. And for some kids, outwear is the “enemy” but experts say don’t give up the fight because it’s no fun for you or your kids to deal with frostbite.

At Flynn Elementary School in Eau Claire, Jack Frost’s wrath is no challenge for the crosswalk safety patrollers.

“We’re doing safety patrol and you cross people on the streets and keep kids safe,” said 5th grader Trista Herman. “I have a super thick jacket with a liner in it and a really warm hat, a scarf and really warm gloves.”

When it gets to be sub-zero temperatures, the patrollers take rotating shifts.

“20 minutes is how long they're usually out in the morning and that's way too long on days like this, so the ten patrollers I have are split up into groups of five and they take two different shifts so they're out for ten minutes,” said general school aid Ginnie Ryder.

Parents waiting to pick up their kids from school are also doing their part.

“I’m keeping him bundled up, coat, hat, gloves, snow pants, everything to keep him bundled up,” said parent, Craig Weisenbeck.

Kari Rubenzer said she’s doing the same.

“I pick him up and drop him off every morning right by the door so he doesn't have to walk too far,” said Rubenzer who lives within the limits of walking distance.

Experts say even just a little exposure can leave a frostbite or permanent hypersensitivity.

“Certainly small kids are at risk. They don't like to keep their hats and mittens on,” said Dr. Shef Massey, D.O. with Sacred Heart Hospital. “The tips of the finger, tips of the ears, the tip of your nose are the most frequent places with injury.”

Massey said it’s usually in places where there is low blood supply where frostbite is most prone.

“The important thing is to just get them warmed again. Most of the time you can do this passively, with just some warm towels or covering them up with a blanket,” said Massey.

If they’re still feeling discomfort after an hour, Massey said to watch out for discoloration of the skin. If it looks white, dark or black, seek medical attention.

And when it gets as cold as it did on Tuesday, there’s no need to bribe your kiddies to wear their mitties.

“He knows exactly that it's cold out and he needs to put it on,” said Rubenzer.

But if you are fighting that battle, Massey said the best course of action is to keep them in.

“Go to an indoor play area; let them expend their energy there. If you're able to go outside with them, keep them supervised, keep an eye on the time,” said Massey.

He said it depends on the temperature and the wind. If it gets to be well below zero and there’s not a lot of wind, Massey recommends letting your kids play 10-15 minutes at a time. If there is wind added into the mix, keep them inside and make sure they’re not exposed for more than a couple minutes at a time.

Also make sure your kid’s clothes stay dry. If you take your kids sledding the night before and their snow pants are wet, get them dry before you send them off to school in the morning.
Massey said wet clothes leads to faster loss in insulation in cold weather.

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