Tuesday, January 29, 2019

It's COLD Outside! Avoid Frostbite By Keeping These Things in Mind!

I grew up in Alaska and then resided in Montana for 32 years before relocating to the state of Indiana four years ago, so I know a little bit about cold weather. Right now, there is a significant portion of the Midwest U.S. battling cold weather, including northern Indiana. Tomorrow, our forecast calls for a high temperature of -8 degrees (yes, eight degrees below zero!). Our low temperature will be -17 degrees, and that isn't taking into account the windchill factor -- and the wind is expected to be blowing 20 to 30 miles per hour, making it feel like 35 to 45 degrees below zero.

Given the extremely cold temperatures and very low wind chills, frostbite can occur in as little as five minutes of exposure. According to Mayo Clinic Health System, signs of frostbite include:
  • At first, cold skin and a prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
If frostbite happens:
  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible. Remove any wet clothing.
  • Cover the person or area in warm blankets.
  • Avoid walking on frostbitten feet or toes to avoid more serious damage.
  • Immerse the areas affected by frostbite into warm (not hot) water until normal skin color returns. Do not soak the affected area too long (no more than 30 minutes).
  • Warm the affected area using body heat.
  • Do not rub or massage the affected area as this can cause further damage.
  • Do not use anything hot, such as a heating pad, stove, or furnace, to warm the affected area, as these areas are numb and may burn easily due to a lack of sensation.
  • The frostbitten area should be gently washed, dried, and wrapped in sterile bandages and kept clean to avoid infection.
  • Consult your healthcare provider about the use of an oral antibiotic or topical ointment.
The Mayo Clinic warns that smokers are particularly at risk. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it can actually tighten the blood vessels -- decreasing blood flow to the fingertips.

Stay warm everyone!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso