Frostbite is a serious condition that’s caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Stay safe this winter by learning more about frostbite, including who is most at risk, signs, and symptoms, and what to do if someone develops frostbite.
Frostbite is a bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.
You may have a greater risk of developing frostbite if you:
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. First, determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
If (1) there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and (2) immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:
These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.
Taking a first aid and emergency resuscitation (CPR) or better yet a wilderness first aid course are good ways to prepare for cold-weather situations. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of those with you.
Taking preventive action is your best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home, car or camping kit in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
Do you have any winter camping tips? Let us know in the comments.
Check out this handy guide covering Avoiding, spotting, treating: Frostbite and Hypothermia.
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Knowing what to do with a burn in the wilderness can help when far from help.