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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Offers Advice for Keeping the Kids Safe While They’re Enjoying Winter Weather

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is offering these safety tips for families during the cold and snowy winter months when fun outdoor activities potentially can be dangerous.

Parents should take precautions when sending their kids out into the snow for winter activities like sledding, skiing and snowboarding. “The first step in preparing kids for outdoor winter activities is making sure they are properly clothed,” said Barbara Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital. “Children should wear layers of warm clothing, utilize appropriate safety equipment and always be supervised by an adult.”

Over the last two winter seasons, sledding injuries resulted in 52 patients being admitted to Children’s Hospital; skiing accidents accounted for 19 admissions.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, each year children up to age 14 sustain nearly 52,000 injuries involving snowmobiles, sleds, snow skis or snowboards. Children ages 5–14 are at a higher risk of winter sports injuries; every year, approximately 49,000 injuries are reported among this age group involving skiing, snowboarding or sledding.

Because they lose heat from their skin faster than adults do, children are more susceptible to frostbite and frostnip. Early frostbite is characterized by waxy, white and hard skin that feels numb and has a persistent burning sensation. Frostnip usually affects the ears, nose, cheeks, fingers and toes. If a child has frostnip, the affected area will be white and numb. Parents also must be aware of the threat of hypothermia, a dangerous condition caused when the body loses more heat than it can produce. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, clumsiness, drowsiness and slowed breathing.  

Here are some tips to help families stay safe this winter season:

Preventing Frostbite and Frostnip:

  • Clothes help keep warm air close to your body. Long underwear is a good start. Then put on a shirt, a sweatshirt, heavy pants and a warm coat that keeps you from getting cold and wet; don’t forget gloves, a hat and winter boots. 
  • If you can’t feel any part of your body or skin, or if something tingles, do not rub it. Go inside and tell an adult right away.

Sledding,Skiing and Snowboarding:

  • Make sure children wear a helmet.  
  • Always supervise children when they sled, ski or snowboard.
  • Teach children to roll off a sled that won’t stop. Tell them not to worry about the sled.
For a complete list of winter injury prevention and safety tips, visit the Injury Prevention section of Children’s Web site.



Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
April 23, 2008
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Last Update
April 23, 2008