Because they are less able to regulate their body temperature, children can quickly develop a dangerously low body temperature (ie, become hypothermic). Newborn infants are prone to hypothermia because of their large body surface area, small amount of subcutaneous fat and their decreased ability to shiver.
Children and adults respond to cold extremes by shivering, developing “goose bumps” and experiencing lethargy and a slow heart rate. Eventually the shivering ends and disorientation and lack of responsiveness occur. Severe hypothermia can also result in arrhythmia, an abnormal beating of the heart, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
To avoid hypothermia, nannies should strive to keep children out of severe cold weather. They should also ensure that children are dressed appropriately in cold weather and that they find a warm, safe place to go if heat is lost in the home during cold weather. It’s important to note that the temperatures do not have to be below freezing for a child to experience hypothermia. This is especially true if the child is wet or if it is windy, according to the American Red Cross.
Call 911 if a child shows signs of hypothermia. Remove damp or wet clothes, move the child out of the cold and warm up the child slowly. This can be done by wrapping him in warm blankets or clothing or by using body heat or a warm bath to increase his temperature slowly. Applying warm compresses to the center of the body can also help to increase body temperature.