The combination of cold weather and outdoor celebrations coming up over the past couple of days means a lot of chances for frostbite and hypothermia. Here are some tips from local and federal authorities on preventing, and treating, both conditions.
WASHINGTON — New Year’s festivities and midnight fireworks displays are among many reasons you might find yourself outdoors exposed to dangerously cold temperatures in the coming days.
Because frostbite makes tissue numb, you might not realize you’re in danger. Areas most at-risk for frostbite are your cheeks, ears, nose, chin, fingers and toes.
The CDC advises never to walk on frostbitten feet or toes unless absolutely necessary. Don’t rub or massage frostbitten areas; that can cause further damage. Don’t warm up at a stove, fireplace or radiator, or with a heating pad. Instead, immerse frostbitten areas in warm water. Or use body heat — for example, by putting fingers in armpits.
With hypothermia, someone whose body temperature is below 95 degrees needs medical attention immediately.
Because hypothermia affects brain function, many of the warning signs are cognitive. Warning signs include:
Infants experiencing hypothermia will have very low energy and bright red, cold skin.
The CDC advises warming the center of the body first — chest, neck, head and groin. If possible use an electric blanket. Get under layers of clothes, towels, sheets or blankets. Skin-to-skin contact under those loose layers is good. Warm drinks that aren’t alcohol can help.
If you’re heading outside for any length of time in freezing temperatures, be sure to bundle up, and cover exposed skin with a hat, mittens or gloves, a scarf or a knit mask that covers your face and mouth. Several layers of loosefitting clothes, and a water-resistant coat and boots are also recommended.
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