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Going outside - how cold is too cold, for kids?

By January 12, 2009 - 2:44pm
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I believe in getting outdoors even in cold weather but am wondering how cold is too cold?
This week will be about 5 degrees F with lows of -2!! With wind chills, it'll be a lot lower.

There is no way I'd let my (young) kids out at 5 degrees, it's just too cold but I'm wondering what temps are reasonable, and what are not? I'd like to know this for their school too, with regard to outdoor play.

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I am probably the wrong person to respond to your posting as my understanding of exposure to cold conditions is limited to sporadic experience and never involved my children. We are blessed to live in Southern California where the weather is mild. Today for example was about 80 degrees F. But having read a little about it I can share this info with you: The American Pediatrics Association states that children are more prone to develop hypothermia (lowered body temperature) when the body’s rate of heat loss is greater than the rate of producing heat. Children also have a relatively larger body surface area that contributes to more rapid heat loss. Also, 50% -60% of the body’s heat loss may take place from the head and hands. Hypothermia is present when the core body temperature drops below 35 degrees Centigrade. Early symptoms of hypothermia will include shivering, euphoria and possibly the appearance of intoxication.

I am not sure how long you have lived in your area and whether you were raised in cold winters. But I will assume that appropriate amounts and types of clothing are the most important method of providing protection from cold-related injury. This includes layering of clothes to provide insulation and conserve body heat, and a warm head covering, gloves or mittens, and warm socks inside boots or heavy shoes to prevent heat loss from the head, hands and feet.

There are some specific diseases or conditions including seizure disorders and sickle cell anemia associated with impaired thermoregulation. Some medications may also affect the body’s ability to tolerate cold weather. I think you need to assess the pros and cons of allowing your kids to play outdoors during very cold conditions.

The "Caring for Our Children National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs" recommends that children not play outdoors when the wind chill is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. You may want to visit their website for more information http://nrc.uchsc.edu/CFOC/

January 13, 2009 - 9:15pm
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