Friday, December 16, 2011

Tips for Avoiding Frostbite

Could you or your children catch frostbite being active outside? It's possible, given the right conditions. However, with precautions - like proper layering - that can be avoided.

Outward Bound instructor, Kristen Laine, who writes the Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog for the Appalachian Mountain Club says that parents should watch out for conditions that are prime for hypothermia and frostbite. "It's really only when the thermometer heads below 5 degrees F and winds pick up that frostbite becomes a real concern. As the days get longer, getting wet and cold becomes a more serious concern than frostbite — warmer temperatures mean rain or mixed rain and snow; warmer snow means wetter boots and mittens and snow pants. Hypothermia, then, is the concern," says Laine.

She offered these tips for keeping children safe.
• It's useful to remember a 5-30-30 rule: 5 degrees Farenheit, 30 mile an hour winds, 30 minutes before exposed skin risks frostbite. Wind chill advisories and the science behind them are based on adult responses, so err on the side of caution with children. As the temperature drops below 0, only 10 mph winds risk frostbite after 30 minutes of exposure.
• Outdoor gear and clothing has come a long way since. Nowadays, if children are properly dressed in a warm hat, warm mittens, layered clothing, and dry boots, they really can stay outside quite a long time. (Unless it's very windy...)
• But pay attention to signs of cold: cold hands and feet are often the body's first sign that its core temperature is dropping. Uncontrollable shivering is one of the early warning signs of hypothermia.
• On windy days, slather Vasoline on the exposed parts of a child's face -- it's great protection against the wind.

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