How to Help Prevent Frostbite

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As with our post about how to help prevent hypothermia, this post is about avoiding and treating frostbite.

What is Frostbite?

It is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It most commonly occurs in the extremities and causes a loss of feeling and colour to the affected areas. Frostbite can range from minor tissue damage through to causing permanent damage, or if it is really severe, can result in amputation.

How can I recognise Frostbite?

The symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Reduced blood flow to areas like hands and feet.
  • Aching/tingling/stinging of the affected area of skin.
  • After the pins and needles type feeling mentioned above, the skin will become numb.
  • White/waxy pale appearance to the skin.

What can I do if someone is suffering from Frostbite?

Some things you should do for frostbite are the same as for hypothermia (and if someone has frostbite they are also likely to have hypothermia). Here is some advice on what to do:

  • Get the person to somewhere warm.
  • Avoid walking on frostbitten feet unless necessary as this can cause more damage.
  • Immerse the area in warm (not hot) water to re-warm the area slowly.
  • Do not rub the affected area as you can cause more damage than has already been done.
  • Provide a warm drink.
  • Get medical attention and go to the hospital if necessary. If unsure go to the hospital to be on the safe side.

How can I prevent Frostbite?

  • Wear appropriate clothing, like multiple warm layers.
  • Wear a hat as we lose a lot of our body heat through our heads.
  • Wear mittens or gloves.
  • Wear waterproof clothing where appropriate.
  • Avoid prolonged or unnecessary exposure to cold or windy conditions.
  • Keep your clothes dry and remove any wet clothing as soon as possible.
  • If you start to feel the beginnings of frostbite, for example the tingling of your skin, get to somewhere warm immediately.


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