Frostbite occurs as a natural response to extremely cold temperatures and is meant to actually protect your inner organs from damage by cutting off circulation to the extremities of your body. These extremities include your hands, feet, toes, fingers, nose and ears.
If you notice, these are all parts of your body that are the furthest from the bodies core, hence they already have less blood flow than the rest of your body. This not only makes these extremities more prone to frostbite, but also tells you what areas to watch closely for signs of frostbite in order to prevent further damage.
Stages of Frosbite
There are actually two stages that occur before frostbite including frostnip and superficial frostbite. Once you have surpassed these stages, true, deep frostbite. Each of these stages requires immediate attention to prevent further damage, or worse-case scenarios such as amputation and permanent damage to your bodies tissue and organs.
There are many warning signs that you will begin to develop that can alert you to potential cold-weather problems including: your skin feels warm even though it has not been exposed to a warm environment, ice begins to form on your skin, and your skin changes to either a red or white shade.
What To Do
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have developed a case of frostnip, superficial frostbite, or deep frostbite, keep the following tips in mind to mitigate the damage done by the frostbite and even, in some cases, to prevent any damage altogether. If you have experienced deep frostbite, medical attention may be required in addition to doing these things – immediately:
- Get out of the cold and into a warm environment
- Cover your hands in your armpits
- Drink something warm
- Put on additional layers of coats/clothing
- Take off anything tight around the affected areas (wristbands, watches, etc.)
- Avoid HOT water, but use WARM water to return feeling to the affected area(s)
Of course, the best way to avoid frostbite damage is to remain indoors and in warm environments. If you ever find yourself out in the cold this winter, however, these tips should help.