When the winter arrives and the temperature drops, most of us welcome the change, but wish it were warm again. Depending where you live though, being cold can be more than just uncomfortable. If you do not take precautions, you could be putting your body at risk of Frostbite!
How Do I Know If I Have Frostbite?
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. The visual symptoms include your skin becoming very very cold and red, then numb, and finally hard and pale. Most people experience frostbite the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Windy weather can accelerate the chances and damage of frostbite on exposed skin.
Is Frostnip a real thing?
Actually yes, it is. Frostnip is the first stage of frostbite however it doesn’t cause any long term damage. This very mild form of frostbite can be treated with first-aid tactics such as rewarming your skin. All other frostbite requires medical attention because it can damage skin, tissues, muscle and bones and in rare cases infection and nerve damage.
When Should I See A Doctor?
- Signs and symptoms of superficial or deep frostbite — such as white or pale skin, numbness, or blisters
- Increased pain, swelling, redness or discharge in the area that was frostbitten
What Can Cause Frostbite?
Wearing clothing that isn’t suitable for the conditions you’re in — for example, it doesn’t protect against cold, windy or wet weather or it’s too tight.
Staying out in the cold and wind too long. Risk increases as air temperature falls below 5 F (minus 15 C), even with low wind speeds. In wind chill of minus 16.6 F (minus 27 C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.
Touching materials such as ice, cold packs or frozen metal.
How Can I Stay Safe?
Limit time you’re outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather. Pay attention to weather forecasts and wind chill readings. In very cold, windy weather, exposed skin can develop frostbite in a matter of minutes.
Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing. Air trapped between the layers of clothing acts as insulation against the cold. Wear windproof and waterproof outer garments to protect against wind, snow and rain. Choose undergarments that wick moisture away from your skin. Change out of wet clothing — particularly gloves, hats and socks — as soon as possible.
Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears. Heavy woolen or windproof materials make the best headwear for cold protection.
Wear mittens rather than gloves. Mittens provide better protection. Or try a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material (like polypropylene) under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens.
Wear socks and sock liners that fit well, wick moisture and provide insulation. You might also try hand and foot warmers. Be sure the foot warmers don’t make your boots too tight, restricting blood flow.
Watch for signs of frostbite. Early signs of frostbite include red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness.
Plan to protect yourself. When traveling in cold weather, carry emergency supplies and warm clothing in case you become stranded. If you’ll be in remote territory, tell others your route and expected return date.
Don’t drink alcohol if you plan to be outdoors in cold weather. Alcoholic beverages cause your body to lose heat faster.
Eat well-balanced meals and stay hydrated. Doing this even before you go out in the cold will help you stay warm. And if you do become cold, drinking warm, sweet beverages, such as hot chocolate, will help you warm up.
Keep moving. Exercise can get the blood flowing and help you stay warm, but don’t do it to the point of exhaustion.