Minnesota has experienced a little bit of everything during the start of our winter season! From rain to snow, from ice to thaw, from sunny forties to forty below! As we gear up for another season of winter fun, including sledding, skating, skiing and more, we spoke with Dr. Bradley Burns, an Emergency Department Physician at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota, about keeping our families safe while still enjoying the great outdoors!
Dress for Success
Children love to be outdoors in the winter, and the fresh air is good for them after being trapped indoors, breathing in recycled air! The first winter safety tip is to dress for the weather.
- Layer up. Dr. Burns says that layers are helpful for anyone, because while we want to be warm in the winter, it is important to avoid excess sweating. Excess sweating can lead to potential hypothermia once you stop moving around. Layers are key to keeping your body temperature just right.
A good base layer will fit snugly but not too tight and will wick sweat away from the body. Avoid cotton base layers, which may absorb sweat, and chill the body. Wool and synthetic materials are good options. A mid layer will be thicker and warm (like fleece), while the outer most layer should be a wind/waterproof jacket & snow pants.When it comes to socks, you’ll also want to layer up. Avoid cotton socks and opt for sweat-wicking wool or synthetic blends. Keep in mind that when children are active and their blood is circulating, their bodies can better regulate their temperature. If you are taking an infant out into the elements, they may need additional help from toe and hand warmers (follow manufacturer instructions when using).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should generally be dressed in one more layer than older children and adults are.
- Boots should be waterproof, thick soled (an insulating barrier between the snow and your feet), insulated and not too tight nor too loose. Too tight, and circulation is inhibited; too loose, and cold air can creep in. Local moms swear by popular brands such as Sorel, Baffin and Kamik for keeping their little ones’ feet warm! Always try on boots with the socks your child will wear, so that you can ensure a correct fit. If your boot has a liner, you can check fit by pulling the liner out, having your child slip their foot into the liner, and gauging how much space there is from the end of their toes to the tip of the liner. Most fitting guides recommend 0.5-1 inch of space for a well-fitting boot. If you are trying to fit a boot that doesn’t have a liner, you’ll want about a thumb’s width between the tip of their toe to the tip of the boot.
Acknowledgment & Thanks
Thank you to Dr. Burns for joining us for this series on winter safety! Dr. Brad Burns grew up in Fargo, ND and attended college at Minnesota State University, Moorhead where he double majored in Biology and Chemistry. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and while earning his MBA in Healthcare Leadership from Rockhurst University, both in Kansas City, MO. After graduating medical school, he completed his emergency medicine residency and worked in the Detroit metro area. He has worked at M Health Fairview Ridges Hospital since 2016. Dr. Burns is an Assistant Medical Director in the emergency department at M Health Fairview Ridges. He is also the Director of physician informatics for emergency medicine in the M Health Fairview health system.