Don’t Let Frosty Get You, Too-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don’t Let Frosty Get You, Too

The winter has been nice to us so far but we know Mother Nature is not this kind for long! Soon we will be back to the weather of snow on the ground, ice on our cars and wrapping up for the cold like Ralphie's little brother (A Christmas Story)! Although we may not need to wrap up to that extent, we need to make sure we are bundled enough to prevent frostbite. Here are some tips from the staff at Mayo Clinic on how to recognize warning signs of frostbite.

o Redness/pain/prickly/itching sensation  on the skin

o White or grayish-yellow skin

o Skin that is unusually firm or waxy feeling

o Numbness

o Cold/burning feeling

o Blistering (severe cases)

As the Mayo Clinic states, someone who has frostbite may not notice it themselves and is often not recognized until someone else points it out because the frozen tissue is numb. If you suspect you or someone you know has frostbite take the following steps to ensure adequate care.

v  Make sure there are no signs of hypothermia.

v  Get to a warm area ASAP and try not to walk unless it is absolutely necessary.

v  Submerge the affected skin into warm - NOT HOT - water. If water is not available, use body heat to warm skin (ex. Putting fingers under armpits).

v  Do not rub or massage affected area since this can cause damage to the tissue.

v  Do not use any heating devices (stove, fireplace, radiator and heating pad) to warm the skin. This can cause the skin to easily burn.

Remember these actions do not substitute for appropriate medical care and should be followed up by a health care provider! Overall, make sure you bundle before going out into the cold and do not stay out longer than necessary!

By: Camille Manley, cmanley@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-7502