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Shivering can be a sign that it’s time to go indoors, pediatrician says

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at 4:29 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, at 7:39 a.m.

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You know that point when you’re outside in freezing cold weather and you start to shiver?

Take that as a sign that you’re done being outdoors. If you’re an adult, you may be able to burn enough energy to stay out longer, Wichita pediatrician Frank Banfield said Wednesday.

But “once children start shivering, their time is up. It’s time to come in,” Banfield said. Very young children generally don’t shiver at all, so if they do and they are becoming lethargic and clumsy, they must come in right away, the doctor said.

As Wichita schoolchildren get their third snow day in a row Thursday, many will go outside to play, perhaps claiming a lane on a Wichita hill for sledding. And that’s fine, Banfield said.

“If they’re busy outside, they should be fine,” he said. “If they stand there and they’re not doing anything, those children are going to get cold.”

It’s also vital that the exposed areas of a child’s skin are covered to avoid frostbite, Banfield said. More skin is exposed on children than on adults in relation to their body weight, he said.

“Because their mass isn’t that great,” Banfield said of children, “they’ll lose heat faster than an adult would. ... Children become more prone to exposure than an adult.”

Because children don’t always cover themselves properly, it’s up to adults to do it, the doctor said. And then it’s up to adults to make sure kids don’t get overheated in the car, he said. If they do and start to sweat, their damp clothes will lead to kids getting chilled when they get back out of the car.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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