Up in Vermont we are always throwing around the word FROSTBITE, but do we even really know what it is?
Frostbite is the freezing of body tissue, usually skin, that forces the blood vessels to contract that causes a loss of oxygen to the affected body parts. Meaning...you lose feeling in the area and the color changes in the tissue.
-Occurs most commonly in feet, hands, nose and ears.
-In bitterly cold temperatures and high winds, it only takes a few minutes of exposure to get frostbite.
-Serious frostbite CAN lead to amputation
-frostbite can cause PERMANENT cold sensitivity
-If you are in frostbite worthy conditions, constantly check. It is sometimes tricky to detect because the affected areas become numb and sensitive to the cold temperatures.
Numbness in the affected area
Tingling, blistered, swollen, or tender areas
Area will redden on light skin, lighten on darker skin
Pale, yellowish, waxy-looking skin
Frozen tissue that feels wooden to the touch
First Step ---> If you think you or someone else is beginning to develop frostbite, immediately move indoors if possible.
Second Step ---> Warm the affected area-but DO NOT RUB OR MASSAGE, it can cause further damage. Instead, re-warm the body part by placing it against a warm body part or blowing warm air on the area. You can also slowly immerse the area in warm water (104-111 degrees F) or use warm blankets. DO NOT EXPOSE TO INTENSE HEAT such as a open fire, stove, or heating pad.
- Increase circulation as much as possible. If you're skiing, wiggle your toes on the chair lift.
- Do not wear cotton clothing. Instead wear a loose, breathable fabric.
- Always wear the usual hat, mittens, gloves, turtle, toque, headband, scarf, etc
- Check out the Wind Chill Index as a guideline.
Another Helpful Hint:
- Contrary to popular belief, a brew or shot of whiskey actually does NOTHING to warm us up in cold temperatures.
- Alcohol, caffeine, and smoking decrease circulation. Instead we are actually letting more blood flow past the surface of the skin, where the cold outside air can snag more heat from our core. So, not a good idea in this situation.