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  • Trees in snow

    Prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia

    Stay safe during cold temperatures

    Frostbite and hypothermia happen when you are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Stay safe and prevent cold-related emergencies: 

    • Avoid activities in or near cold water unless you know you can get help quickly. 
    • Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long.
    • Wear a hat, gloves and layer clothing.
    • Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
    • Stay active to maintain body heat.
    • Take frequent breaks from the cold.
    • Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of your body to the cold.
    • Get out of the cold immediately if you have signs of hypothermia or frostbite.

    Frostbite symptoms

    Frostbite occurs when when body parts get too cold and begin to freeze.

    What to watch for:

    • Numbness or lack of feeling in fingers, toes, nose, or earlobes.
    • Skin appears waxy or discolored or feels firm.

    Frostbite—how you can help

     Seek professional medical care as soon as possible.

    1. Move to a warm place.
    2. Handle the affected area gently. Never rub. Avoid breaking blisters.
    3. Soaking the area in warm water (100–105°F) until it is red and feels warm.
    4. Loosely cover the area with dry sterile gauze.
      • Separate fingers or toes with dry sterile gauze.
    5. Do not allow the area to refreeze.

    Hypothermia symptoms

    Hypothermia occurs in very cold weather or if a person is wet and chilled.
    What to watch for:

    • Shivering, numbness, or weakness.
    • Staring, apathy or impaired judgement.
    • Loss of consciousness.

    Hypothermia—how you can help

    Call 911 or go to the hospital immediately.

    1. Gently move to a warm place.
    2. Monitor breathing and circulation.
    3. Give CPR, if needed.
    4. Remove wet clothing and dry off.
    5. Warm slowly.
      • Wrap in blankets or dry clothing.
      • Use hot water bottles or a heated blanket to warm gently. 
      • Do not immerse in hot water. Rapid warming can be dangerous.