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Keeping young athletes warm in winter

Winter is almost here, but sports seasons are still in full swing. As the days grow shorter and the air gets sharper, keep your kids warm during outdoor sports practices and games.

Layer up
Be smart about the way you stack clothes on your young athlete. The proper layering techniques will keep your child warm on the field or the sidelines.

Bottom layer: This layer should be tight-fitting, as other clothing articles must fit on top. Avoid shirts made of cotton, as they trap moisture and pull heat away from the body. Choose water-wicking fabrics instead. These include polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate or wool. 

Mid layer: The point of this layer is to create insulation, which will keep your child warm during winter sports practices and games. This will also pull moisture from the base layer farther away from the athlete's body. As you did with the bottom layer, swap out cotton for down, polyester, fleece, wool, and synthetic and natural blends. Fleece tends to be a favorite because it's light and dries quickly if it gets wet. 

Top layer: This should be wind- and waterproof to protect your child from the harsh elements of winter. Look for winter coats that have a fleece lining and ventilation. 

Keeping the core warm is easy. With all these layers and physical activity, your athlete will be fine. But don't forget about the fingers, toes and face. Make sure your child has warm gloves and heavy socks. Wool socks are great because they don't trap moisture and are warm. A good hat is also important. If your child gets too hot during the game, he or she can pull off the gloves and still have a warm core. 

Sun protection
Don't let the cold of winter fool you! The sun can still burn in this weather, especially because snow reflects many of the ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere. Make sure your child puts on sunscreen before hitting the fields. Protect the face, hands and the back of the neck. Keep sunscreen with you at games and practices, as your athlete may sweat the first layer off. 

Sports equipment
Check on your child's sports equipment before practices. Cold air contracts, so used sports equipment like basket balls and soccer balls will have less air in them. Pump up the balls before leaving home.

Keep an eye out for symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite. If your child seems lethargic, is shivering or has begun to slur words, get them medical attention as hypothermia may be creeping in. Skin that is experiencing frostbite will appear pale, gray and blistered. Do not rub the affected areas. Give your child something warm to drink, get them somewhere dry and put the skin in a warm blanket.

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