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Children & Cold Weather

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 include shivering, euphoria and possibly the appearance of intoxication. Some specific diseases or conditions including seizure disorders and sickle cell anemia are associated with impaired thermoregulation. Some medications may also affect the body’s ability to tolerate cold weather.

Schools & Cold Weather

School systems must be flexible in making decisions about the extent of childhood exposure to low temperatures. Although ideally children can wear enough clothing to provide adequate protection from very cold temperatures and wind-chill factors, students frequently do not take care to dress warmly enough to provide adequate protection. It is not unusual to see students without hats and gloves, and with coats unbuttoned despite the cold weather. Because of this unreliability of childhood behavior, school systems must take extra caution and lean toward the side of safety for all children (poorly-dressed or otherwise) in cold-weather situations. There is no inherent value to having children go outdoors for school activities or recess in very cold weather, thus indoor activities are a preferable substitute. Waiting for busses is also a consideration, as brief cold exposures in very cold weather can be harmful (resulting in hypothermia) and unpredictable events may happen (bus breaks down) greatly extending the time of exposure to the cold. School policies should take into account such unforeseen circumstances in their decision-making.


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Article and Picture Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News

How to Keep Your Children Safe and Warm in the Cold  was originally published on