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Keeping kids safe in extreme weather

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With severe winter weather covering much of Northeast Ohio, parents need to pay careful attention to keeping their children safe from the perils of the cold.

The National Weather Service (NWS) http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=OHZ011&warncounty=OHC035&firewxzone=OHZ011&local_place1=&product1=Wind+Chill+Warning#.Uuaagxb0DR0 has issued a winter weather message, citing a Wind Chill Warning that includes Lorain, Cuyahoga, lake, Geauga, Ashtabula inland, Medina, Summit, Portgage, Trumbull, Wayne, Stark, Mahoning, Holmes, Ashtabula, Northern Erie, and Southern Erie counties in Ohio. The Wind Chill Advisory is currently in effect until at least noon EST on Wednesday, with chill readings dropping to between 10 to 15 degrees below zero through at least late Wednesday.

Many parents and students are predicting school closings, and Governor Kasich is reportedly considering increasing the number of “calamity days” for school systems, due to the persistent intensity of the weather.

The safety of children in this type of threatening weather is critical. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), http://www2.aap.org/sections/schoolhealth/ECarchivenovember11.html, parents should dress their children in multiple layers of light, dry clothing, with children requiring at least one more layer than an adult would. Particular attention should be paid to protecting the head, hands, necks and feet.

Moisture-wicking clothing is advisable. If layers are removed, sweat can chill quickly when exposed to the severe cold, again increasing the risks to the child’s safety.

The AAP says that younger children are at the greatest risk for cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia. Because of their smaller size, young children lose heat more rapidly than older, larger children. According to healthychidren.org http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Chillin-With-Winter-Safety.aspx, younger children’s bodies have a more difficult time regulating body temperature. Additionally, younger children typically aren’t aware of the danger signs associated with cold exposure.

The AAP encourages parents, schools and communities to develop winter-clothing donations programs in order to allow needier families to keep their children safe in the winter weather.

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