How to Be Prepared for Cold Weather Emergencies

When the weather turns frigid, it is important to remember how to protect your family from dangerous temperatures and wind chills. Here are a few reminders to keep them safe.

If you’re traveling in a car make sure you have the right clothing. You never know when you may have car trouble, so always bring a warm coat, hat and gloves, but remember to take off bulky coats before fastening car seats.

Bulky coats leave a space between the child’s body and the car seat strap, allowing for increased movement and less effective restraint. Instead, remove the coat or snow suit, buckle your child securely, and then cover the child with a coat or blanket.

Keep your tank at least half full in the freezing temperatures to avoid having your fuel line freeze or running out of gas. Keep your car stocked with the following items in case of an emergency:

  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables

As tempting as it may be to warm up your car before climbing in, make sure you never run the engine in an enclosed space.

When kids are outside they should be dressed in layers to help keep body heat from escaping. Hats, gloves and boots are a must in the colder temperatures! If a child gets wet, bring them inside, let them warm up and then dress them in dry clothes before returning to outside play. Keep kids as dry as possible, because body temperature falls more quickly when wet. Wear a helmet for winter activities such as sledding, skiing and ice skating.

Be alert for signs of hypothermia – signs of hypothermia including

  • shivering
  • decreased activity
  • clumsiness
  • slurred speech
  • confusion

If your child needs immediate medical attention, call 911 or visit your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department.

Sarah A. Denny, MD
Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, works as an attending physician in the Section of Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and as an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine. She is Co-Chair of the Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves on the Executive Committee for the Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her specific areas of interest include bike helmet awareness, safe sleep and legislative advocacy. Sarah is the mom of three energetic little boys (ages 4, 6 and 8). In her free time, Dr. Denny runs half marathons, loves to travel and is learning to garden.

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