Prevent Frostbite By Following These Tips

Cold TemperaturesUnless you’re lucky enough to have the day off or to be able to work from home, we don’t need to tell you how cold it is outside. Embarrass, Minnesota has already registered temperatures of -40, and wind chills are expected to make it feel like -50 or -60 here in the Twin Cities. Health officials say leaving skin exposed for even five minutes can cause severe damage, so bundle up if you have to go outside today.

We want to keep you safe during this arctic freeze, so we compiled a list of some ways to prevent frostbite. Follow these tips to stay warm this winter!

1. Cover Everything – If you have to be outside, make sure you cover all parts of your body. Thick pants and a jacket are a good start, but don’t forget the accessories, like a cap that covers your ears, a scarf, gloves, facewarmers, and heavy boots. The less you leave exposed, the better.

2. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs – Alcohol and certain drugs can alter the way your body responds to a drop in temperature. While alcohol may give the perception that you are warm, it actually causes your core body temperature to drop. You also may be more likely to ignore or attribute numbness to the effects of alcohol or drugs, even if the are actually caused by colder temperatures. If you are going to have a drink, minimize the time you spend outside.

3. Avoid Wetness – Frostbite sets in faster if the body is touching a wet piece of clothing that freezes. Holes in gloves or boots can leave your feet and hands susceptible, so double check them for any openings before heading outside. If you plan on braving the cold weather for your workout, pack an extra change of clothes. If you sweat through your workout attire then leave the building, frostbite can set in within a few minutes. Give your body a chance to cool down and change into some dry clothes before heading outside.

4. Get Back In – It’s so cold that Minnesota closed all public schools three days in advance, so it’s clear that government officials want to stress how dangerous these cold temperatures can be. There’s no reason to be outside for an extended period of time today. If you need to be outside, head indoors at regular intervals to let your body warm up. Even if you’re only a few blocks away from your destination, take your vehicle or public transportation.

5. Seek Medical Attention – If you think you have frostbite, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of frostbite include gray or whitish coloration, numbness, and a waxy appearance. The faster you get to a doctor, the quicker they can prevent any further damage.

Be safe out there today and stay warm!

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Lance Silverman, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of Silverman Ankle & Foot. Treating Minnesotans with Ankle & Foot problems since 2004.

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