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Watch Out! Winter Hazards

by Lori Sciame December 10th, 2013 | Little Ones, Preschool, Safety
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child sleddingEach season ushers in potential safety hazards, those that may cause injury or even death in preschoolers.  Like summer, temperatures can compromise the safety of young children; however, this time of year it’s the cold rather than the heat that can injure or even kill.  Seasonal celebrations may also boost certain types of injuries.  In summer, fireworks surrounding the Fourth of July are of special concern, while at Christmastime it’s the numerous electrical decorations.

Frigid Temperatures Cause Frightening Injuries

During the coldest months, children can experience the pain of frostbite relatively quickly.  When the temperature dips to below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is a strong wind, a child’s skin may freeze in mere minutes.  Especially vulnerable are the hands, fingers, feet, toes, ears, and nose (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons).

My advice is to pay attention to the weather forecast concerning actual temperature vs. wind chills.  Many times it may sound as if it’s warm enough for a trip to the outdoor ice rink, but if the wind and humidity are factored in, it may be too chilly to venture outside.  If your preschooler must go outside on days like these, such as to school, you can prevent frostbite by covering all his or her skin.

Faulty Heaters Can Kill

Cold temperatures can also harm a child in a more roundabout way.  For example, some families rely on space heaters to warm a room when there is a cold snap.  Sometimes, these heaters do not work properly, which means they can emit carbon monoxide.  This odorless, colorless gas kills 500 people each year, including children (Colorado State University Extension).  If these types of heaters must be used, then purchase a carbon monoxide detector for your home.  Much like a smoke detector, they will let out a high pitched scream if carbon monoxide has reached dangerous levels.

Holiday Electrical Hazards

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) explains ways to keep preschoolers safe from electrical hazards during the holiday season. For instance, they assert that “‘Electrical accidents involving children dramatically increase when adult supervision is not present,’” said Brett Brenner, president of ESFI.

In addition to constant supervision, his organization recommends the following tips to help keep preschoolers safe:
  • “Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.
  • When visiting family and friends, look for and eliminate potential dangers around electrical outlets, candles, and exposed electrical cords.
  • Avoid hanging Christmas tree lights, ornaments, metal hooks, and other small decorations on the lower limbs of the tree where they could easily be reached by a small child.
  • Replace electrical toys with battery-operated alternatives for children under ten years old.
  • Avoid buying toys that might be flammable, and be sure all electrical toys bear a safety label from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory such as UL, CSA, or ETL.”

Keeping preschoolers safe in the winter is possible.  Just like any other season, a parent/guardian must be aware of hidden hazards.  Remember, for a healthy and happy child, place safety first!

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