S. T. Fleming

Language. Education. Literacy. Creation.

Frostbite

18        Winter Survival- Frostbite

Frostbite

You know how your parents always tell you to wear a hat, scarf and gloves when you are outside in the cold weather? Well, you better listen, because your hands, feet, nose, ears and face are the first areas on the body to be affected by the cold weather. By keeping these parts of your body covered, you can “seal in” your body’s heat and reduce your risk of frostbite.

Frostbite is when the fluids and cells in our bodies actually freeze. This freezing can damage our blood vessels, which can block bloodflow into the area, causing lack of oxygen and tissue damage. This can become a very serious condition if you do not warm up right away.

Whether or not a person develops frostbite depends on a variety of factors, including outdoor temperature, how long you are outdoors, the humidity (or moisture) in the air, if your clothes/gloves/socks are wet or damp, wind, if sensitive parts of your body are exposed to the weather and more. If these factors are in place, frostbite can occur after being outdoors for only a few minutes! And, children are especially at risk for frostbite.

A less serious condition is minor frostbite, or frostnip, which can affect the outer layer of skin, making your fingers, toes or nose look white. As you warm up, the white will disappear and the area will remain red, sometimes for several hours.

So, what are the frostbite warning signs?:

1.) Skin will appear white, grayish-yellow or grayish-blue in color
2.) Skin will have a waxy appearance
3.) The area will have no feeling, meaning it will be numb to the touch
4.) Blisters may be present, signaling a more serious case of frostbite
5.) The skin and surrounding tissue will feel frozen, stiff or “wooden”
6.) The area(s) may swell, itch, burn or have pain, especially as you warm up

 To prevent frostnip or frostbite, or further damage after experiencing either one, follow these simple rules every time you are going to be outdoors in cold weather:

1.) Cover sensitive body parts (ears, nose, hands, toes, etc.), with appropriate clothing before heading outdoors
2.) Make sure clothing remains dry; if you get wet, change out of the clothing immediately
3.) Make sure to choose waterproof boots and coats, as well as gloves or mittens, to help lessen the chance of frostbite

4.) If you notice signs of frostnip or frostbite, tell an adult and warm up indoors – immediately. Serious cases of frostbite can land you in the hospital if not treated immediately!

Always seek medical attention for frostbite, as soon as possible, since permanent damage to affected areas can result in irreversible tissue damage or amputation, in extreme cases. In the meantime, follow these rules:

  • Opposite of what you may think, do not apply direct heat to the affected area. Instead, apply a warm (not hot) moist compress to the area and allow the body to naturally warm-up indoors.
  • Keep the frostbitten area elevated, if possible.
  • Remain indoors for a long period of time. Don’t just warm up for a half-hour then return to the cold, since this can further the damage and cause permanent injury to the areas that are affected.
  • If you suspect a case of frostbite, whether in a child or adult, seek emergency medical assistance.
  • Frostbite is a serious medical condition and should not be taken lightly, especially if your children play outdoors in cold temperatures for long periods. Check their extremities every so often to determine their condition.

Taken from http://www.lanakids.com/frstandhypthrmia.html

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