Extremely cold temperatures are very serious and exposure to negative wind chills can quickly turn life threatening. If you are living in an area exposed to cold winter weather, be aware of these signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.
What is Frostbite?
When skin is exposed to extremely cold temperatures it can develop frostbite tissue damage. Frostbite usually affects the extremities first, before moving in towards body parts closer to the heart.
Mild frostbite may involve numbness, tingling, aching or throbbing in the exposed area. The hands, feet, nose, and ears are most commonly affected. The skin may feel hard to the touch and look pale or white. More severe frostbite may involve blisters, or blackened, dead skin tissue.
Frostbite First Aid
If you believe you are suffering from frostbite, seek shelter to a warmer place. Remove clothing items that may restrict blood flow and separate any impacted fingers and toes. Then seek immediate medical care and follow these first aid guidelines.
What is Hypothermia?
Your body enters hypothermia when you begin to lose heat faster than you can replace it. This condition commonly occurs through exposure to very cold water or cold wet clothing. Hypothermia begins when your body passes below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowered temperature puts your organs and nervous system at risk of malfunction.
Many times hypothermia and frostbite go hand-in-hand so always check for symptoms of both ailments. Symptoms of hypothermia include drowsiness, confusion, pale skin, loss of motor skills, shivering, and slowed breathing and heart rate.
Hypothermia First Aid
In most cases, especially when there are signs of mental confusion, hypothermia is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate care. If immediate care is not available, follow these first aid guidelines.
Stay safe and warm this winter by heeding local weather warnings and staying indoors when cold temperatures hit.