Keeping Little (and Big) Noses and Toes Safe this Winter


kids, snowday

Another snow day?

My kids had been home now for the 3rd day in a row; what’s a little 19 inches of snow? With the kids spending so much time out in the snow and subzero temperatures, now is the time to remember cold safety. Although you hear primarily about frostbite (injury caused by freezing of the skin and tissues), frostnip is much more prevalent – it is essentially mild frostbite that can be treated with first aid including rewarming measures.  All other frostbite requires medical attention by a health care provider.

Kids are at higher risk for frostbite than adults, both because they lose heat from their skin more quickly and because they don’t want to leave the winter fun to go inside and warm up.

The areas most prone to frostnip or frostbite are the head, face, ears, hands, and feet; exactly those areas that frequently poke out from our best efforts to turn our little ones into down mummies when outdoors. Frostnip is the milder form of injury and makes these spots red and numb or tingly. If these or other areas are white or pale, numb, swollen or blistered, you should seek immediate medical attention from a health care provider.

forstbite, frostnip, winter, safety


What to do if you think your child has frostnip:

  • Bring your child indoors immediately – kicking and screaming no doubt if yours are like mine!
  • Remove all wet clothing. Wet clothes draw heat away from the body.
  • Immerse chilled body parts in warm (not hot) water for 20 to 30 minutes until all sensation returns. Water should be 99 to 108 F (37 to 42 C). If a thermometer isn’t available, test the water by placing an uninjured hand or elbow in it — it should feel very warm, not hot.
  • Don’t use heating pads, stoves, fireplaces, or radiators to rewarm because the affected skin can be numb and easily burn.
  • Call your doctor if sensation does not return, the child has a fever, or you have other concerns.
  • For superficial frostbite that has been rewarmed, apply aloe vera gel or lotion to the affected area several times a day to reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid further exposure to cold and wind.

girls snow hat

Preventing injury from cold exposure:

  • Limit the time kids are outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather – rotate time indoors and outdoors during activities.
  • Dress kids in layers of loose, warm clothing – change out of wet clothing, particularly gloves/mittens and socks as soon as possible.
  • Wear a hat or headband that covers your ears. Try having junior pick one out – that will increase the probability that it will get on and stay on.
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves. I know, I know, snow forts and stuff need gloves! But fingers help warm each other up, so if the activity doesn’t involve using individual fingers, try mittens instead.
  • Check children frequently for signs of frostnip – I tend to rub noses to check in.

More information can be found at:



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