Winter warning: Cold, snow, ice pose potential hazards for kids

December 09, 2015
Dr George Aghia

If you're a parent, guardian or babysitting, you'll want to keep in mind these winter safety tips, whether your kids are snow bunnies, or more likely to stay cozy by the fire:

When the "weather outside is frightful:"

--Protect your children from frostbite and hypothermia in frigid weather by having them come indoors regularly to warm up. Remind them to keep their hands, feet and head covered while they're outdoors. Some parents like to make their children more comfortable on those extra cold days by slipping hand and foot warmers in their gloves and boots.

--Educate your kids about the dangers of ponds that may only be covered with thin ice. Make sure they skate only on surfaces that have been officially designated as safe.

--Snowboarders in the Midwest often are dealing with a hard icy surface, rather than a cushion of snow. Your snowboarders should have and wear appropriate helmets to protect from head injuries.

--Teach safe sledding. “Before kids head down the hill they need to make sure the sledder ahead of them has cleared the path,” says George Aghia, MD, a board certified family medicine physician with Edward Medical Group. “Choose sledding sites that are clear of rocks, trees and possible landings in traffic.”

--Review safe winter driving techniques with the newer drivers in the family. This includes keeping the car well maintained and not letting the gas tank get too low. Keep sand or kitty litter in the car to spread for traction if the vehicle becomes stuck in the snow.

--Sunny and windy winter days can do a number on your skin; use sunscreen with zinc oxide to help protect from sunburn and wind burn.

At home:

--January is a good time to check those CO2 and smoke detectors, and to make sure your children know what to do if they smell smoke or detect a fire.

--Heated indoor air can make your kids more vulnerable to respiratory infections and dry skin conditions, such as eczema. Keep your home humidifier well maintained, and add room humidifiers as needed. Make sure your kids get their flu shots, and have moisturizers readily available.

--Some emotional problems, such as depression, can peak during the dark months of winter. If bad weather leads to more time at home as a family, take advantage of the opportunity to talk with your kids about what's going on in their lives. Share any concerns you have about changes in their behavior or moods. Let them know you are there to listen.

A dose of prevention can help keep your children out of the ER this winter, prepared to fully enjoy the fun and beauty of the season.

Dr. Aghia’s Edward Medical Group office is located in the Edward-Elmhurst Health Center – Crest Hill, 16151 Weber Rd. For more information or to make an appointment, call (815) 838-2888 or visit