Protecting your kids from the bitter cold

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The brutal cold winter weather can be tough for our kids, especially when there are delays with the school bus coming.

There's a critical time period kids need to be checked on if they're going to be out for any extended period in the cold.

Pediatrician, Dr. Nick DeBlasio at Cincinnati Children's Hospital said you're going to want to check on your kids every 15 minutes or so, especially out in this extreme cold, as it will not take long for frostbite to set in.

FOX19 NOW got a call from a Fairfield mom early Tuesday who said her son's bus was delayed 25 minutes, and she was worried about him being out so long.

Tuesday was Fairfield Middle School's first day back from break, and in record-breaking cold.

School spokesperson Gina Gentry Fletcher said a substitute bus driver had personal car trouble and that is what delayed kids on her route by about 10 minutes. Otherwise, she said, the rest of the kids got there on time.

"We see a lot of kids, after they've been out there longer than 20 minutes, that's when they tend to get into some trouble," said Dr. DeBlasio, who added, kids do not have the extra fat layer adults do, so they tend to lose heat faster.

"So they are much more prone to problems such as hypothermia and frostbite than adults are," he said.

Keeping all this in mind, Fairfield Superintendent Billy Smith said in a statement to parents,  they went the extra step and re-inspected each of their buildings New Year's Day just to make sure heat was working properly and had all the busses re-inspected as well.

Smith's entire statement to families read:

"Making decisions about delays and closings can be very difficult. We rely on forecasts that may change over the course of a few hours. Our most important priority is the safety and security of our students. As a district, we knew that we were going to be experiencing some cold temperatures and wind chill readings on the morning of January 2nd. As a result, we made sure that each of our school buildings was inspected on January 1st. We wanted to make sure that our buildings would be warm for our students and staff upon their return from winter break. We also had our busses inspected on multiple occasions during winter break.  On the morning of January 2nd, we had folks come in early to start our busses.

In addition, we had someone from the garage on-site in the event that their services were needed. During the day on January 1st, we started fielding questions about January 2nd. As a result, the district made the decision to issue a statement that we had intentions of being on a regular schedule on January 2nd. We understand the importance of communicating with our families and employees so that they may plan accordingly. We also shared that we would be monitoring conditions overnight and would be communicating with families as soon as possible in the event that we needed to be on a delay or close for the day.  Of course, we may not always be able to issue a statement because weather forecasts often come with a great deal of uncertainty."

Waiting on those busses for any kids, in any district, can be dangerous if they're not properly dressed.

"Ideally, a nice warm winter coat, a hat, gloves," said Dr. DeBlasio.

Kids should wear boots to keep their feet dry, especially if they're going to be playing in the snow.

"15 to 20 minutes they need to be checking in with their parents, make sure things are OK," said Dr. DeBlasio.

Age and weight may vary, but most kids can get into trouble just from cold exposure.

"Red tingly skin. Then after that, you start to go to a gray, painful skin and then the final step is white skin that doesn't have a lot of pain and you can also get some blistering as well," he said. "So we're getting three main calls right now. Number one, cold weather. Number two, kids are starting with influenza, and number 3, we're having a lot of vomiting and diarrhea."

Dr. DeBlasio added, he hasn't seen any frost bite cases yet this season, but worries more about people with breathing issues like asthmatics. This cold air can trigger an attack.

They usually see a drop in flu cases while kids are home on holiday break and away from school crowds - but give it a couple weeks of kids sharing germs, and we could see a spike in flu cases which could last well into April.

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