Avoiding hypothermia and frostbite

With below freezing temperatures for the past few days hypothermia and frostbite can set in.

Winter weather is taking it’s toll across the U.P. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in within minutes. Light colored, pale skin are the beginning signs that you want to look out for, as well as blisters.

U.P. Health System Bell, E.R. Physician, Doug Labelle explains, “Frostbite and hypothermia may come together but they are two very different things. Hypothermia refers to the core body temperature being low. Frostbite is a localized injury to tissues that freeze which is commonly fingers, toes, nose, other exposed areas.”

If you do find yourself suffering, do not rub your skin as you could further damage your skin tissue. Use warm not hot water on your body and do not warm up by an oven, as your skin is less sensitive and you risk a thermal burn.

“We’ve seen times where folks have lost fingers, feet, part of their hand pieces of their nose. It takes months of surgery and rehab to try and recover as much of that function. This leads to amputations and so its definitely something you want to prevent,” continues Labelle.

So when you head out, be aware of your environment and dress appropriately…in layers. Stay dry and limit alcohol and cigarette consumption as they effect blood flow. Always be sure to protect your skin from frigid temperatures and wind exposure as much as possible.