T’is The Season To Be Protected Against the Cold and Know How to Treat Unexpected Frostbite.
Frostbite is an injury to any part of the body after excessive exposure to extreme cold. It is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. At first, the skin becomes very cold and red, then numb, hard and pale. Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin.
The goal of frostbite treatment is to salvage as much tissue as possible, to restore body functioning, and to prevent complications.
The earliest sign that the body temperature begins to fall below normal (hypothermia) is shivering. This is actually good since the body is attempting to warm its temperature. However, prolonged exposure to extreme cold temperature can have the following symptoms:
* Numbness and loss of pain sensation
* Cold skin that feels hard and solid
* Loss of function
* Color change from white, to red to purple
* Slurred speech
When you notice these signs, make sure to apply the following first aid procedures:
* Call 911 for moderate to severe symptoms or seek immediate medical care.
* Move to a warm place and remove any wet clothing.
* Unless it is absolutely necessary, do NOT walk on frostbitten toes or feet.
* Do NOT begin to warm the skin until you can maintain keeping it warm. Warming, re-exposing to cold air, and then re-warming can cause further damage.
* Gently warm the area in tepid to warm (NOT hot) water or with wet warm towels until the skin appears red and warm.
* If no water is nearby, breathe on the area through cupped hands and use blankets.
* Do NOT use direct heat from heating pads, a heating bottle, radiator, or by sitting close to fires.
* Do NOT rub or massage the skin or break any blisters that may have formed.
While outdoors and especially when hiking or camping, always be prepared for extremes in temperatures including the sudden potential for very cold weather when the seasons are changing, even when it is warm at the onset of your outing.
Higher altitudes and mountainous regions are highly susceptible to swift changes in temperatures. Do not ignore your body when it begins to shiver. Wear more layers of clothes as necessary.
Carry a Mylar emergency blanket or two, to protect against sudden onset of cold and protection in the event of encountering severe weather.
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