Arctic Cold Front: Preparing Your Children for the Coldest Temperatures of the Season
Expect a long duration of below freezing temperatures and windy conditions, according to the National Weather Service.
The coldest temperatures of the season are headed to North Texas later this week with an Arctic cold front. The best thing you can do is to prepare you and your family to stay safe and healthy.
Wind chills are expected to be below zero degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Be sure to dress warmly, cover up any exposed skin and limit your time outdoors. Hypothermia begins when our body temperature drops two to four degrees.
By Thursday night, low temperatures will fall into the single digits across most of the Dallas-Fort Worth region. By Friday morning, temps will be in the teens or possibly in the single digits with high wind gusts.
People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes. Areas most prone to frostbite are uncovered skin and the extremities, such as hands and feet.
Take these tips from MedStar on what a winter weather plan should include:
- Make sure that you have important phone numbers, including for your health care providers, pharmacy, and veterinarian.
- Assure you have enough medication for several days on hand.
- If you rely on medical devices in your home, have a backup plan in case you lose power for an extended period of time, such as a backup generator or battery pack and backup oxygen bottles.
- Have a communication plan for your family.
- Know how to get reliable information during the storm.
- Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power.
If the power does go out, be very cautious of carbon monoxide.
During the Texas winter storm in February 2021, Cook Children’s treated 13 patients for carbon monoxide poisoning in one night. Sam Selby, D.O., worked the overnight shift in the emergency department on Feb. 15, 2021 and saw families use propane or diesel-burning engines that are meant for outside use with adequate ventilation.
Dr. Selby described how families used generators inside or too close to their homes or garages to keep warm. Generators emit fumes and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning prevents your blood from being able to bind to or carry oxygen. You suffocate while you are still breathing,” Dr. Selby explained.
Here are some additional ways to keep your family safe during this time:
- Don’t use anything such as a BBQ grill or propane tank to heat your home.
- Don’t run a vehicle inside of a garage attached to your home.
- Don’t heat your home with a gas oven or stovetop.
- Don’t burn charcoal inside of your home.
- Do seek medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Do ensure the carbon monoxide detectors in your home are properly functioning and installed in areas that will wake you if it alarms.
- Do check for local resources, such as warming shelters, to keep your family safe.
Coats & Car Seats
Don’t strap your children into their car seats with their heavy coats on. In a crash, padding from a coat or thick layers will flatten out, leaving room under the car seat harness. This increases the risk of a child slipping through the straps and being thrown from the car seat. Instead, dress your child in thin layers. Once buckled up, slip the coat on backward with the sleeves on the child’s arms. This way, the coat acts as a blanket and doesn’t affect the fit of the harness.
Pack an emergency bag for your car. It’s a good idea to have blankets, warm clothing, hats, and gloves available in case you become stuck in winter weather. You’ll also want to have nonperishable snacks packed away.
- Make sure newborns are dressed appropriately. "A good rule of thumb is to dress newborns in as many layers as you're wearing," said Diane Arnaout, M.D., Cook Children’s Medical Advisor for Digital Health. "That includes covering their heads, hands and feet. Those areas can lose a lot of heat and be harder to keep warm."
- For the most warmth, dress your little ones in wool instead of cotton. Essential winter items include hats and gloves, as well as sweatshirts or T-shirts that can be layered under overcoats or jackets.
- Blue skin, shivering and a cool chest and stomach are signs that children may be dangerously cold. If you see these signs, take action immediately to get kids out of the cold. Seek immediate medical attention if you're not able to warm the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, "is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures." To learn more about the warning signs of hypothermia, click on this site from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Warning signs for adults include:
- Shivering, exhaustion
- Confusion, fumbling hands
- Memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
- Bright red, cold skin
- Very low energy
Victims of hypothermia can include babies sleeping in cold rooms.
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