Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Health & Fitness
  3. Holistic Health

Guarding yourself against hypothermia and frostbite

See also

With the polar vortex about to bear down on us again it is a good opportunity to remind people to safeguard themselves against hypothermia and frostbite.

Basically, hypothermia occurs when the body temperature becomes abnormally low (generally falling under 95°F, causing the body to slow down, or even shut down in severe cases, and can make it extremely difficult for victims to move well and think clearly. While it generally occurs after prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures, hypothermia has been known to set in when it is above 40°F if the person becomes chilled from rain, is submersed in cold water, and even from sweating.

Those at the greatest peril are the homeless, people who work outdoors in extreme cold, hikers, hunters, babies left in cold bedrooms, the poor and elderly who don’t have adequate food, clothing, or heating and both drunk addicts and alcoholics, etc. The most common symptoms include shivering, drowsiness and exhaustion, confusion, inability to hold onto things, memory loss and slurred speech. Babies may also exhibit cold, bright red skin and lethargy.

If you see someone exhibiting these signs, get them out of any wet clothing immediately and bring them into a heated room or shelter. Keep them dry and begin warming them up, especially around the chest, head, neck and groin using blankets (electric if possible), or use your own body through skin-to-skin contact. Warm beverages will also help. But do not give them alcohol, which will cause blood vessels to rise up closer to the skin, bringing the temperature down even more. Another thing, do not try to pour liquid down someone’s throat if they are unconscious. Finally, get them to a doctor or emergency room as soon as possible.

Frostbite, on the other hand, occurs when a body part actually freezes. While mild frostbite doesn't leave lasting damage, severe frostbite does cause permanent damage and may even require amputation of the frozen part. Signs include white or grayish-yellow skin area, numbness and skin that feels unusually hard or waxy.

The first thing to do is get the person into a warm room. However, if their feet or toes are frostbitten, do not let them attempt to walk on them unless there is not other choice. Doing so will only cause more damage. Next, immerse the frostbitten area in warm (not hot) water. Placing fingers under an armpit can also help.
Contrary to popular belief, never rub snow or massage frostbitten areas. This too will actually cause more harm. In addition, health experts warn people “not to use stoves, fireplaces, radiators, heating pads or heat lamps for warming, since parts that are numb can easily burn.”

Parts more susceptible to frostbite are noses, ears, and chins, cheeks, fingers and toes. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation such as diabetics and smokers, and individuals not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

Advertisement

Life

  • Dead babies found
    Seven dead babies were found in Utah resident Megan Huntsman's old home
    Video
    Shocking Discovery
  • Kendall Jenner
    Get the Coachella looks: Kendall Jenner’s nose ring, green hair and edgy nails
    Camera
    Coachella Look
  • Dog's Easter basket
    How to fill your dog’s Easter basket with the perfect toys
    Easter Basket
  • Rabbit owners
    Bringing home the bunny: Important information for rabbit owners
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Haunted island
    The world’s most haunted island may soon be the most haunted luxury resort
    Haunted Resort
  • Sunken ferry
    Search continues for missing passengers after a ferry sinks off the South Korean coast
    Video
    Sunken Ferry

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!