Frostbite and Hypothermia: How to Protect Yourself from the Cold

Frostbite
The idea that your fingers and toes fall off if you get frostbite is a myth; quite often, the worst that happens might be permanent numbness. But you can also wind up with gangrene — and lose a toe or finger or ear or nose — if you’re not careful. First, recognize the symptoms of frostbite:

A pins-and-needles sensation, then numbness.

Hard, pale, cold, numb skin. When frostbitten skin has thawed, it becomes red and painful (early frostbite). More severe frostbite results in white and numb skin because the tissue has started to freeze.

If you or someone you’re with has frostbite:
1. Get the person to a warmer place. Remove any constricting jewelry and wet clothing.

2. If possible, wrap the affected areas in sterile dressings (remember to separate affected fingers and toes) and get the person to the nearest emergency room.

3. If immediate care is not available, immerse the affected areas in warm — never hot — water or repeatedly apply warm cloths to affected ears, nose, or cheeks for 20-30 minutes. Keep circulating the water to aid the warming process. Warming is complete when the skin is soft and sensation returns.

4. Move thawed areas as little as possible.

5. If the frostbite is extensive, give warm drinks to the victim in order to replace lost fluids.

6. Don’t thaw out a frostbitten area if it cannot be kept thawed. Refreezing may make tissue damage even worse. Also, don’t use direct dry heat (such as a radiator, campfire, heating pad, or hair dryer). Direct heat can burn already damaged tissues.

7. Don’t rub or massage the affected area, or disturb blisters on frostbitten skin.

8. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol during recovery, as both can interfere with blood circulation.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram

@kristencarney

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.

@sixthformpoet

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”

@NicCageMatch

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy