Watch out for this year's winter woes

Dec. 18, 2003, midnight | By Lauren DalBello | 17 years, 6 months ago

Bundle up this winter, everyone! Forecasts are predicting a long season of cold and snowy weather, so it is important to be aware of the dangers of frostbite.

Kids tend to be at a greater risk for frostbite because they lose heat from their skin more rapidly than adults and often ignore the cold due to their desire to stay out and play.

You can prevent frostbite by dressing in layers, making sure to come indoors at regular intervals and watching for frostnip, frostbite's early warning signal. Frostnip can be treated at home but if in danger of frostbite, seek immediate medical attention to prevent permanent tissue damage or loss.

Frostnip usually affects areas most exposed to cold, like cheeks, nose, ears, fingers and toes, leaving them white and numb.

What to do:
1. Get inside immediately.
2. Remove all wet or damp clothing.
3. Immerse the chilled body parts in warm—not hot!—water until you regain all sensation in that area. If possible, have someone else control the water temperature during the re-warming process. Numb hands will not feel the heat and can be severely burned by overly hot water.

Frostbite is frozen body tissue, usually skin but sometimes deeper, characterized by white, waxy skin that feels numb and hard.

What to do:
1. Get into dry clothing, because wet clothes draw heat from your body. Then get to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Have someone carry you if your feet are affected.
2. If you cannot get to a hospital immediately, get a warm drink and begin first-aid treatment.
3. Immerse frozen areas in warm water (around 100 degrees Fahrenheit) or apply warm compresses for 30 minutes. If warm water or compresses are not available, wrap the areas gently in warm blankets.
4. Do not: rub frostbitten skin or rub snow on it, thaw the frozen area if it is at risk of refreezing or use direct heat such as a fire or heating pad.
5. Re-warming will be accompanied by a burning sensation. Skin may blister and swell and may turn red, blue, or purple. When skin is pink and no longer numb, the area is thawed.
6. Apply sterile dressing to the area. Try not to disturb any blisters.
7. Wrap re-warmed areas to prevent refreezing, and keep thawed areas as still as possible.

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Lauren DalBello. Not be confused with Eva Cassidy, Lauren DalBello likes having fun. She can most often be seen smiling. She is excited about Switzerland next year, but she will also miss everything from her little hometown better known as Takoma Park. More »

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