Keen on Kids
Welcome to Keen on Kids!
Keen on Kids was developed with help from Dr. Mary Keen, Pediatric Marianjoy Program Medical Director, as an informative resource for parents and families on a number of important topics. This includes articles on childhood development, child safety, and school issues, among many others.
Winter Safety Tips for Kids
Winter can be a fun time of year, especially for children. Colder temperatures and falling snow make sledding, skiing, and building the occasional snowman exciting outdoor family activities. Encouraging kids to get out and enjoy the winter weather is beneficial, but parents should keep safety in mind.
Dr. Mary Keen, Medical Director of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pediatric Program, notes the importance of dressing your child properly for the cold weather. “A jacket, mittens, and hat are just the basics and are certainly not enough clothing if the temperature is below 30 degrees, especially if your child is younger than five years old,” explains Dr. Keen. “If the kids are going to spend any length of time in the cold weather, dress them in layers. In fact, the rule of thumb is to dress your child in one more layer of clothing than you are wearing. And in severe cold, their skin, including their neck, face, ears, and fingers, should never be exposed.”
Skin that is exposed to very severe cold can quickly develop frostbite, a condition that occurs when the tissue becomes frozen. Symptoms include a numbing, tingling, or even burning sensation, and the area may blister and become pale. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if frostbite does occur, a child should immediately be brought indoors and the frostbitten body parts placed in warm water or at the least, a warm washcloth should be applied to the affected area. Never use hot water or rub the frozen areas. If the numbness persists, call your physician.
To enjoy fun, outdoor winter sports safely, Dr. Keen recommends that children should be properly supervised to avoid injury. “Ice skating is a wonderful physical activity for your child. However, the ice should be solid, without risk of cracking, and designated safe by the authorities,” notes Dr. Keen. “And just like ice skating, sledding should be done in areas that are also deemed safe. Ensure there are no motor vehicles in the vicinity of the sledding area and that it is free of dangerous obstacles, like trees or fences. Children should sit on the sled, instead of lying down, to avoid injury to the head.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, each year, over half-a-million children between the ages of 0 to 14 are brought to emergency rooms with a mild concussion or more serious head injury diagnosis. Many of these injuries can be prevented. “There are two things I can’t stress enough to parents,” explains Dr. Keen. “First, whether it’s ice skating, sledding, or skiing, a child should always wear properly fitting equipment, including a helmet. The risk of sustaining a serious head injury when participating in activities that involve speed, groups of people, and the risk of losing one’s balance, is too great not to take this simple precaution. Secondly, adult supervision is key to making sure that our kids stay safe during outdoor activities. Activities in the winter can be just as fun and exciting as those in the summer if we take precautions and avoid unnecessary risks—especially when it comes to our kids.”
For more information on Marianjoy’s pediatric program, please call 630-909-7155
About Dr. Mary Keen
Dr. Keen is medical director of Pediatric Rehabilitation at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. She is a clinical associate professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and an attending physician in the Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery Section of Rehabilitation Medicine.
She is a founding board member and medical director of Almost Home Kids (formerly known as CoachCare Center) in Naperville. She is also an assistant attending physician at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Dr. Keen was named a Top Doctor by Chicago Magazine in 2001, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2011, a Patients' Choice Award Winner in 2011, 2012 Consumers' Checkbook's Top Doctors, and has been named one of the Best Doctors in America® by Best Doctors, Inc., every year from 1998 to 2008. She also is an adjunct faculty member of Midwestern University.
Dr. Keen is board certified in four specialty areas: physical medicine and rehabilitation; pediatrics; physical medicine and rehabilitation - pediatrics; and pediatrics - neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Dr. Keen is dedicated to serving pediatric patients and their families in the community.