The onset of the winter’s first serious snow in many areas will have kids waiting eagerly to get out and play in it. Pediatrician Eric Haugen says there are hazards in all that clean white snow that may not be readily apparent. Doctor Haugen says little kids don’t have the balance and abilities adults do, and so are more likely to fall and get hurt doing some things. If you’re talking about sledding, advise your kids not to go head-first or to lie down, but rather to sit up on the sled with their feet and face forward. Make sure there are adults around when they’re playing and make sure the location’s safe. Haugen says it’s always a good idea to go there yourself first, so you know where your kids go sledding, and what kind of safety hazards are out there. He says you’re not being over-protective if you worry about the risk of head injury or other dangers from winter sports. “There has been talk about kids wearing helmets, elbow pads and knee pads when they go out and play in the snow when they’re sledding, skating and things like that,” the doctor says. He recommends when you’re checking out their play area ahead of time, look to see there aren’t crowds nearby, or bodies of water, and that they’re not too close to the street. Kids aren’t immune from frostbite, and should be dressed in warm socks, boots and mittens — the doctor at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines says mittens keep the fingers close together and are warmer than gloves. He says it’s also important to keep their hats on, as kids lose a lot of warmth through the head and can also suffer frost-bitten ears.
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