Safety 101: Avoid Frostbite

While many of us have big plans to spend more time outdoors in the New Year, a few practical tips can keep you safe during the cold winter months.

Many victims are unaware that frostbite has set in since the skin has become numb. However, here are some warning signs:

  • Skin will initially become red
  • If the situation progresses, skin will become white or a grayish yellow
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • Numbness

If you or someone in your party has frostbite:

  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage.
  • Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
  • Warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
  • Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
  • Don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.