Preventing and treating frostbite

We’re experiencing a nasty ‘cold spell’ at the moment (I woke up to temperatures of -28 Celsius/-18 Fahrenheit).  These are the kinds of temperatures that can lead to frostbite, if you’re not careful.  If you live somewhere that experiences these kinds of temperatures, it’s a good idea to review with your children some tips for preventing and treating frostbite.

Having said that, if your child is anything like mine, they are not exactly thrilled with the prospect of bundling up even more than usual (they already have a tough time bending and performing other such necessary movements, because of the various layers of clothing).  However, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), “It takes only minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten if the temperature is below 20 F and the wind is blowing at 20 mph or more”, so what you’re aiming for is to cover as much skin as possible.

For this reason, a hat is better than a headband or earmuffs, and a neck warmer that can be pulled up to cover part of the face is a must at times like this (this is actually one of my favorite winter accessories, since it is warmer and safer than a scarf, which can get caught when a child is playing and seriously harm them).  It is possible to buy a ‘balaclava’ with a neck warmer and hat combined, but it looks too much like a ninja for my daughter’s liking (I imagine my nephews, however, would think this was pretty cool).  Warm but loose-fitting clothing worn in layers is your best bet and mitts are definitely warmer than gloves (I have these cool mitts that have a water-resistant shell on the outside and are fuzzy inside and actually have fingers like gloves for better dexterity).

On extremely cold days, children should limit their time outside (they are more susceptible to frostbite than adults) but, if they should decide to venture out, teach them to recognize the early signs of frostbite, which includes “red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness” (

For more facts about frostbite, its prevention, symptoms and treatment, click here to check out this article from the AAOS.


Teach your children how to bundle up to protect themselves from frostbite and how to recognize the signs when they should be seeking shelter from the cold.  Just one question remains…is it spring yet?!

For more information on how to protect your children this winter season, you may also wish to read my post on “Hand hygiene“.