Friday, January 3, 2014

Frostbite and Hypothermia

The following is from the Dakota County Emergency Management Team.

With the extreme cold weather and wind chills moving into the area the next several day  I felt this was good information to send out again.   Please pass this information on to others.


What is FROSTBITE?
You have frostbite when your body tissue freezes. The most susceptible parts of the body are fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Get medical attention immediately for frostbite. The area should be SLOWLY re-warmed.
Gradually warming the affected skin is key to treating frostbite. To do so:
·         Protect your skin from further exposure. If you're outside, warm frostbitten hands by tucking them into your armpits. Protect your face, nose or ears by covering the area with dry, gloved hands. Don't rub the affected area and never rub snow on frostbitten skin.
·         Get out of the cold. Once you're indoors, remove wet clothes.
·         Gradually warm frostbitten areas. Put frostbitten hands or feet in warm water — 104 to 107.6 F (40 to 42 C). Wrap or cover other areas in a warm blanket. Don't use direct heat, such as a stove, heat lamp, fireplace or heating pad, because these can cause burns before you feel them on your numb skin.
·         Don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible. This further damages the tissue.
·         If there's any chance the affected areas will freeze again, don't thaw them. If they're already thawed, wrap them up so that they don't become frozen again.
·         Get emergency medical help. If numbness or sustained pain remains during warming or if blisters develop, seek medical attention.



What is Hypothermia?
 
Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Determine this by taking your temperature. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and exhaustion. Get medical attention immediately. If you can't get help quickly, begin warming the body SLOWLY. Warm the body core first, NOT the extremities. Warming extremities first drives the cold blood to the heart and can cause the body temperature to drop further--which may lead to heart failure. Get the person into dry clothing and wrap in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any HOT beverage or food. WARM broth and food is better. About 20% of cold related deaths occur in the home. Young children under the age of two and the elderly, those more than 60 years of age, are most susceptible to hypothermia. Hypothermia can set in over a period of time. Keep the thermostat above 69 degrees Fahrenheit, wear warm clothing, eat food for warmth, and drink plenty of water (or fluids other than alcohol) to keep hydrated. NOTE: Alcohol will lower your body temperature.

Tips on How to Dress during cold weather
 
The best way to avoid hypothermia and frostbite is to stay warm and dry indoors. When you must go outside, dress appropriately. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Remove layers to avoid sweating and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat because much of your body heat can be lost from your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

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