Alaska e-Post online
The termination dust will soon be on the mountains, which means it’s time for parents to take steps to make sure children are dressed appropriately for outdoor play and walking to and from school once that first snowfall arrives.
According to the Anchorage School District Web site, all students who are well enough to attend school are well enough to play outside unless the school receives a note from a medical provider.
Students in the ASD play outside until temperatures are 10 below zero, while students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District play outside until the temperature reaches 20 below zero, according to their respective Web sites. Playing in such extreme temperatures means its imperative children are dressed in appropriate attire to prevent frostbite.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, children should wear the following items before playing outdoors or walking to or from school in the winter:
A scarf or knit mask to cover their face and mouth.
A shirt with sleeves that are snug at the wrist.
Mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
A water-resistant coat,
Several layers of loose-fitting clothing
Parents should make sure the outer layer of children’s clothing is tightly woven and wind resistant to reduce body heat loss caused by wind, the CDC said. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
It’s also important to make sure children stay dry, the Web site said, as wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so parents should advise children to remove extra layers of clothing whenever they feel too warm.
Serious health problems, such as frostbite, can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. According to the CDC, frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas and most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, the CDC advises people to get out of the cold or to protect any exposed skin. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
A white or grayish-yellow skin area
Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. If a person suspects a frostbite injury, the CDC advises them to:
Seek medical care immediately.
Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage.
Immerse the affected area in warm — not hot — water. The temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body.
Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions.
For more information on local school district policies, log onto www.asdk12.org for the ASD or www.northstar.k12.ak.us for the FNSBSD. The CDC Web site can be accessed at www.bt.cdc.gov.