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(ST. LOUIS) Jan. 30, 2008 – With snow on the way, Heidi Sallee, M.D., pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine, provides parents with simple steps to keep their kids safe outdoors in the cold weather.

“I think snow is a good thing,” Dr. Sallee says.  “It’s a great opportunity for kids to get outside for some vigorous activity. Parents just need to use common sense when it comes to children and wintertime activity.”

Dr. Sallee offers these tips for parents:

  • Children less than 2 years old should never be outside in inclement weather.  Dr. Sallee advises parents to closely supervise children ages 2 to 5 that are playing in the snow.
  • Always protect your child by making sure they wear a hat and gloves in addition to a coat.  Because a child’s head is larger in proportion to their body than an adult’s, children lose body heat much faster.  While rare in St. Louis, be on the lookout for white patches on the skin, which may be a sign of hypothermia.  Keep your child indoors until these areas have regained color.
  • If temperatures are in the 30’s, children can generally play outside for an hour or so.  After an hour, kids should come in to warm up for at least a half-hour and eat or drink something warm, such as hot chocolate.
  • Dr. Sallee advises against sledding head-first, as it increases the risk of injury.  When kids are sledding, parents should survey the area first and make sure the sledding path is away from roads or other hazards that may present danger.  
  • If a child’s clothing is damp from playing in the snow, make sure it dries before letting them back outside, or have them change into something dry.
  • It’s ok for kids to be outside in the cold.  Kids don’t get sick from being in the cold, they get sick from the viruses we all pass around while indoors.

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