Holiday vacations may take just a little extra effort

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The weather is clearing from last week's storm, and kids have a few days off for holiday vacation. Going outside and away from their new electronic devices is a good way to ward off cabin fever, but not if they get hurt.

Sledding, skating, snowboarding and skiing are great wintertime fun, but cause the most accidents and injuries.

Lydia Holm, M.D., an emergency room physician at Blank Children's Hospital, offers these wise reminders.

* Give your kids a snack before they head out to play in the cold. The calories will give them the energy they need in cold weather.

* Apply sunscreen -- snow can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays.

* Dress kids in layers of clothes; they can peel off clothes as they become wet.

* Dress them in long underwear, a turtleneck, sweater and coat. Add more layers as needed, but avoid cotton clothing, because it isn't as warm. Waterproof pants and jackets make for a great top layer, and don't forget warm socks, boots and a hat.

* Know the hill where they will be sledding, and make sure they avoid rocks or busy roads. And, always supervise your children while sledding.

If they suffer "frostnip," -- an early sign of the onset of frostbite -- immerse the chilled part of their body in warm (not hot) water until the feeling returns. If it has advanced to frostbite -- turning white or yellowish gray -- take them to the nearest hospital emergency room for treatment, Dr. Holm said.

When they are cooped up, avoid respiratory viruses like the flu by washing their hands, especially after sharing toys, coughing and blowing a runny nose.

And, during the holiday vacation, what could be more healthy for family life than sitting down to a board game, reading a story to younger children, or viewing a family movie together?

Holidays can be a fun, rewarding and relaxing time together, but it may take a little effort to keep them that way.

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