Frostbite and its Preventing Measures
When exposed to very cold temperatures, skin and underlying tissues may freeze, resulting in frostbite. The area’s most likely to be affected by frostbite are your fingers toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin.
Hypothermia is often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. It can also be caused by ongoing exposure to indoor temperatures below 50 F (10 C). You could be at increased risk if you're also exhausted or dehydrated.
Signs and symptoms of hypothermia usually develop slowly and may include:
- Shivering, though this may stop as body temperature drops
- Slurred speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Drowsiness or very low energy
- Confusion or memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Bright red, cold skin (in infants)
First Aid & EmergenciesFirst aid measures may prevent further heat loss and help the body slowly warm up.
- Remain calm. Fear or too much activity causes sweating. Sweatingcan make you feel chilled.
- Find shelter so you can get out of the cold, the wind, or the water.
- Remove cold, wet clothes.
- Put on dry clothing, especially wool clothing or a synthetic fabric that insulates well, such as polypropylene.
- Protect the cold or frozen body part from further cold exposure and bruising. Pad frozen fingers or toes. Gently wrap fingers or toes in soft, dry material, such as cotton or gauze.
- Putting cold hands, feet, or ears in warm water [104°F (40°C) to108°F (42°C)] for 15 to 30 minutes. Do not use water above 108°F (42°C). Warm towels can be used to warm the genital area but be careful not to burn the skin.
- Move around, but don't be so active that you sweat. Whirl your arms around like a windmill to get your blood moving and warm you up. Activity makes body heat and improves blood flow. Sweating should be avoided because it cools the body.
- Drink warm fluids that do not contain caffeine or alcohol. Eat high-energy foods, such as candy. Do not give food or drink to a person who is acting confused or responding slowly.
- As a last resort, use a warm-water bath [100.4°F (38°C) to 105°F (41°C)] to rewarm if help is not available and other home treatments are not working to warm you up. Small body parts, such as a hand or foot, can be rewarmed by putting them in warm water. Do not put anyone who is not fully awake and alert into a warm bath.
Avoid activities that can further damage cold-injured skin;
- Do not rub or massage frozen skin.
- Do not rewarm frozen skin if refreezing is possible. Wait until you reach shelter, the injury will be worse if your skin freezes, thaws, and then refreezes.
- Do not walk on frozen feet if possible. However, it is better to walk on frozen feet than to thaw your feet if there is a chance they will refreeze.
- Be aware that if you (or the person) sit in front of a heater or a fire to warm up, there is a greater chance of getting burned. This is because normal feeling is lost in cold-injured skin, and you may not know when to move away from the heater or fire.
- Do not use tobacco.