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Is Jack Frost nipping at your nose yet? Winter is a magical time of sparkling snowfall, frozen ice, and joy. A time filled with activities such as snowball fights, sledding, and snowman building. However, as the weather turns cold, the members of the community will need to pay special attention to the temperature and wind chill to protect themselves and their loved ones from the risk of frostbite.

Emergency room medical provider Rochelle Herrada, APRN, stated, “Frostbite is damage to the skin caused by cold. Typically areas that experience frostbite include ears, nose, cheeks, hands, fingers, feet, or toes.” 

Children and the elderly are at the greatest risk but anyone can experience frostbite. Symptoms of frostbite may include:

  • Cold, pale skin
  • Pain, tingling, burning, or aching
  • Loss of feeling or numbness
  • Developing blisters
  • Swelling

If you or someone you know is showing signs or symptoms of frostbite they should be evaluated by a healthcare professional immediately.

Steps to take if frostbite is suspected:

  • Come inside from the cold
  • Remove any wet clothing and get dry
  • Change into warm, dry clothing
  • Seek evaluation your medical provider

The best way to prevent frostbite is to stay out of the cold. However, life must go on even on the coldest of days. Things to consider to help reduce the risk of frostbite when you can’t avoid the outside include:

  • Keep the head, ears, nose, cheeks, hands/fingers, feet/toes covered when outside
  • Keep hands and feet dry
  • Apply clothing in multiple layers
  • Change clothing as it becomes wet
  • Go inside intermittently to warm up
  • Avoid long exposure to the cold especially when windy

Pay attention to both the predicted temperature as well as the wind chill temperature index. Wind chill dramatically increases the risk of frostbite because of the increased rate at which heat is lost from the body. In extreme temperatures, even a short exposure to the cold can cause frostbite. Be prepared when the weather turns cold.