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How to bundle kids up for cold weather

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Learn to layer

With Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow this Groundhog's Day, you may be bundling up your kids for winter weather for six more weeks. Whether you are planning a ski vacation or just playing in your backyard, it's important to know how to layer your child's clothing for maximum warmth and protection to allow them to safely enjoy their time outside.

Tips for avoiding frostbite

Could your kids catch frostbite playing outside? It's possible, given the right conditions. However, with precautions - like proper layering - that can be avoided.

Outward Bound instructor, Kristen Laine, who writes the Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog for the Appalachian Mountain Club says that parents should watch out for conditions that are prime for hypothermia and frostbite. "It's really only when the thermometer heads below 5 degrees F and winds pick up that frostbite becomes a real concern. As the days get longer, getting wet and cold becomes a more serious concern than frostbite — warmer temperatures mean rain or mixed rain and snow; warmer snow means wetter boots and mittens and snow pants. Hypothermia, then, is the concern," says Laine.

She offered these tips for keeping kids safe.

  • It's useful to remember a 5-30-30 rule: 5 degrees Farenheit, 30 mile an hour winds, 30 minutes before exposed skin risks frostbite. Wind chill advisories and the science behind them are based on adult responses, so err on the side of caution with children. As the temperature drops below 0, only 10 mph winds risk frostbite after 30 minutes of exposure.
  • Outdoor gear and clothing has come a long way since I was a kid. I remember skiing in -70 degree wind chill in flimsy single-layer wool mittens -- and have the frostnipped fingers to show for it. Nowadays, if kids are properly dressed in a warm hat, warm mittens, layered clothing, and dry boots, they really can stay outside quite a long time. (Unless it's very windy...)
  • But pay attention to signs of cold: cold hands and feet are often the body's first sign that its core temperature is dropping. Uncontrollable shivering is one of the early warning signs of hypothermia.
  • On windy days, slather Vasoline on the exposed parts of a child's face -- it's great protection against the wind.

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