Children and the Cold: The Risks of the Energy Crisis

Faced with the energy crisis and the restrictions imposed on schools for this winter, parents of students can legitimately wonder what the consequences will be for their children and their education. Will they be less focused in class? What is the impact of cold on health? Do teachers have a right to opt out under these conditions? Questions that we asked two specialists. Details.

  Children and the Cold: The Risks of the Energy Crisis

This year, the winter season is likely to leave a few traces in the memories of adults and children alike. In schools, as we have seen recently, the energy crisis requires management to take measures to reduce their energy consumption and thus comply with the sobriety plan defended by the government. Faced with this situation, some parents of students already fear the future repercussions on their children this winter, with the low temperatures. Both in terms of their health and their education. To see more clearly and find out whether or not you should be worried, we interviewed Charlotte Bailly, pediatrician and founder of the pediatric teleconsultation platform WithForMom , as well as Gilles Langlois, national secretary of the Unsa teachers' union.

Can a child suffer from the cold?

In winter, both a child and an adult can suffer from the cold. “When temperatures drop, children cool faster than adults, because the internal system of thermoregulation increases with the development of the child. Thus, infants and young children have more difficulty regulating their temperature than teenagers and teenagers. the adults', explains Charlotte Bailly, pediatrician. For example, a newborn at birth placed in a room at 24 degrees would feel the same as a naked adult exposed to a temperature of 1 degree .

What are the risks if a child is cold?

L' hypothermia , when a child is unable to regulate their body temperature in the face of cold, Has consequences on the health of the youngest . They can be more or less severe depending on the degree of low temperatures, and the length of time the child is exposed to them. This may be 'of the chilblains on the extremities hands-feet-nose-ears. In the event of extreme cold, our body favors the blood circulation of the internal vital organs, to the detriment of the extremities. But also of dry skin , of l' eczema , of asthma etc.' In this case, children most at risk are the premature babies or those with small weights , them sick children which have less efficient thermal regulation.

What is the effect of cold on a child's concentration?

The cold also has an impact on the child's concentration and effort when studying, at school or at home. ' Fighting the cold requires energy from our bodies , especially to growing organisms (those of children editor's note) , so it can decrease the energy needed for memory and concentration ', assures the pediatrician.

Very serious scientific studies have looked into the matter. The Quebec biometerologist, Gilles Brien, expert on the subject, deciphered it in his book Human barometers: how the weather influences us. He declares : 'Absolute scientific proof does not yet exist, but it is a recognized fact in educational circles that behind the fluctuations in behavior and the level of understanding of students lies the influence of atmospheric conditions.' It is based in particular on an Australian study dating from 1993, which demonstrated 'a large proportion of weather-sensitive children' . 'Girls are even twice to three times more sensitive than boys to sudden changes in the weather' , details the expert on his blog .

What temperature to exercise your right of withdrawal?

If the temperatures in schools and classrooms are very low, can teachers exercise their right of withdrawal? ' No, the right of withdrawal is an exceptional procedure which, according to the terms, corresponds to a serious and imminent danger. Low temperatures cannot be considered a serious and imminent danger. The procedure also requires alerting his superior, and the right of withdrawal is exercised only when there is a lack of response from the hierarchical authority', teaches us Gilles Langlois. In which case, the staff is exposed to sanctions, particularly in terms of remuneration. In contrast, teachers have the right to raise their complaints with the headteacher to find solutions together. 'We will undoubtedly have cases of feedback, it has already happened even outside the current context. In general, it is then managed with the town halls' , who have control over the systems of heater , comments the secretary of the teachers' union Unsa.

Can the courses be adapted if it is too cold?

'For the moment, we have no information that goes in this direction. It would really have to be exceptional situations. It is the academic authorities who must take decisions on the suspension of schooling under conditions that would jeopardize students and staff, says Gilles Langlois. In all cases, ' it is extremely complex to arrange or reduce students' timetables ' , just for families who have to organize themselves in relation to their work.

For the time being, Gilles Langlois assures us, the National Education staff are very attentive to what is looming for the winter. Otherwise, 'It must be the subject of a health and hygiene committee meeting at the ministry this week'. Information on the subject will therefore no doubt be communicated soon.

If a child is cold at night, is his sleep disturbed?

It's well known, a child who is cold or hot at night sees his sleep disturbed . 'Physiologically, colder and warmer temperatures are contrary to good quality of falling asleep and sleeping in general. This is why the recommended temperature in the children's room at night is between 18 and 20°, with of course age-appropriate clothing and blankets' in winter, comments Charlotte Bailly.

Does the cold have an impact on the growth of the child?

The impact of cold on child growth has not yet been scientifically proven. But the pediatrician Charlotte Bailly notes all the same that a correlation between the two is possible in certain cases. 'It's difficult to say precisely, but given that fighting the cold requires energy for our bodies, I would say yes if there is significant exposure to cold in duration and intensity.'

What are the reflexes to put in place in winter?

To protect your child when the temperatures drop, it is recommended to avoid going outside at the coldest times of the day , especially if the child or baby is sick. Parents must be able to anticipate these weather phenomena and dress their cherubs accordingly. Charlotte Bailly gives some tips to best warm your child in winter:

  • Cover extremities with hat, gloves, scarf (preferably woolen)
  • Do not overcover your child either, otherwise perspiration and humidity will increase the feeling of cold
  • Choose hot drinks and soups
  • Use hot water bottles (not next to skin) to warm extremities
  • And 'hugs and kisses at will'
Thanks to Charlotte Bailly and Gilles Langlois for answering our questions.Source