Frostbite

Thousands of people suffer frostbite each winter. For some, it’s a total loss of feeling in their fingers, for others it’s worse. Here are some reminders to help you stay warm as you enjoy your time outside.

Enjoying Wintertime Outdoors:
• Dress in layers and keep your clothing dry.
• Wear mittens instead of gloves, fingers are warmer together.
• Drink responsibly in cold weather — alcohol creates a sensation of warmth, but it actually decreases core body temperature.
• Bundle up your kids, and monitor how long they’re outside.
• On the very cold days limit your time outdoors.
• If you notice any symptoms, like tingling and burning, get out of the cold immediately.

Stages of Frostbite:
First Degree Frostbite: A mild form of frostbite in which your skin turns red and feels really cold.
Second Degree Frostbite: In this stage the reddened skin will turn white or very pale. Upon warming, blisters may appear. This results in some tissue and nerve damage.
Third Degree Frostbite: Affecting all layers of the skin, the area will turn black and hard as tissue dies.

First Aid for Frostbite:
• Avoid rubbing the area, especially with snow.
• Don’t walk on frostbitten feet or use a frostbitten hand.
• Avoid thawing the affected area if you are far from help or if there is a chance of refreezing.
• If you are in a permanent shelter and can thaw a frostbitten area:
• Immerse area for 20-45 minutes in warm water, never use hot water.
• As it thaws, it will turn pink or bright red and sensation may return.
• With minor frostbite (not ones with blisters) it’s ok to apply undyed and unscented Aloe Vera to the affected area.
• Protect area from refreezing and seek medical attention.

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