Frostbite: What Is It and What To Do – South Dakota Winter Safety
Even if you've lived in the Sioux Empire your whole life, it's still a good idea be safe during the extremely cold weather.
One of the serious things that can happen to your body is frostbite. I've known about frostbite my whole life but have only been vaguely aware of what exactly it is.
What is Frostbite, and what to do?
I know that covering up my skin is the best way to avoid frostbite and that the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes are the most susceptible. But how do I recognize it and what should I do? Let's find out.
The Centers for Disease Control says:
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage body tissues, and severe cases can lead to amputation. In extremely cold temperatures, the risk of frostbite is increased in workers with reduced blood circulation and among workers who are not dressed properly. -CDC.gov
MORE: What Exactly Is Wind Chill and How Is It Calculated?
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin because frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
- Reduced blood flow to hands and feet (fingers or toes can freeze)
- Tingling or stinging
- Bluish or pale, waxy skin
OK, I get it, what do you do if you think it might be frostbite?
- Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage.
- Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
- Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
- Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
- Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
- These procedures are NOT substitutes for proper medical care....frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.
MORE: Is It Safe for Your Pets to Be Outside on Cold Weather Days?
Alright, how about a video?
A Survival Guide For Your First Winter in South Dakota
Winter Weather Tips From the National Weather Service
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