According to the National Weather Service, frostbite occurs when the body’s survival mechanisms kick in during dangerously cold temperatures. To protect your vital organs, the body cuts circulation to extremities that will eventually freeze.
It's all about safety, so here's more information on what frostbite is, how you can avoid frostbite and what to do if you think you are experiencing frostbite.
How to avoid frostbite
It’s easy to avoid frostbite, however. Protect your health and stay indoors.
That’s easier said than done, so if you can't escape winter weather and you do need to venture out into nature during extreme cold, you should try to cover every part of your body and keep your skin dry.
Frostbite can happen in a matter of minutes and can affect any areas of exposed skin – especially your fingers, nose, toes and ears.
What are signs of frostbite?
Symptoms of frostbite can include the formation of ice crystals on your skin, as well as redness and/or pain in an area of exposed skin.
Also, numbness and skin that feels firm or waxy can also be a sign of frostbite.
If your skin turns blue or gray, gets swollen, blistered, or feels hard and numb, get to a hospital as soon as possible.
What to do if you experience frostbite
If you head outside when it's extremely cold, you could be at risk for frostbite. But there are things you can do before you get inside and after to try and prevent significant damage.
Try and get inside as quickly as possible. Until then, don't rub or massage any area that you feel is frostbitten. You can also put your hands in your armpits to try and warm them up. Holding onto another person or an animal could help warm you up, too. Adding extra layers of clothes and blankets, if possible, will help.
Once you get inside, make sure you don't walk on your foot if it's frostbitten. That could cause more damage. You can get into a warm, not hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm towel.
Never stand near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or hair dryer to try and warm up. You could burn yourself before the feeling returns.