Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Treat Frostbite

Okay, so you just got back from saving the world from aliens by walking day and night in snow and rain to the military base near-by to tell them the secret weak-spot in between the arms of the aliens. Good job -insert your name here-, but what's this? Strange grey skin on your cold begotten hands? Could  his be some new alien disease you've contracted?! No, silly, it's frostbite.

Even these clothespins are cold.

In order to treat frostbite, we need to determine the severity of the frostbite.
Frostnip - Painful sensation, red skin, skin still responds normally to pressure.
Superficial Frostbite - Numbness, white to greyish skin color, skin still feels soft
Deep Frostbite - Numbness, white to greyish-yellow skin color, skin feels unusually firm and waxy.

Generally, try to move into a warmer location and remove any wet clothing. The wet clothing suck the living warmth's out of you.

Treating Frostnip, and superficial frostbite:

  • Rewarm the body parts affected slowly.
  • Insert hands into warm water no more then 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place hands underneath the armpits or against a partners stomach
  • Don't rub the body parts together. If crystals of ice have formed, you may create tissue damage. Try not to move them in general.

Treating severe, deep frostbite:

  • Warm the affected areas gently. Keep water between 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit, any more would damage the body part with burns. The water should be comfortable to unaffected body parts. As the water cools, gradually add more water, don't pour warm water directly over the affected area.
  • Do not use dry heats such as hand warmers, heaters, fireplaces, heat pads. It's very difficult to control the temperature of these things, and there are more chances of damaging the affected areas, and will not provide gradual heat needed to treat frostbite
  • Apply dry sterile dressings to the affected areas. For fingers and toes, wrap each digit individually, to prevent fingers and toes from rubbing against each other directly.
  • Seek medical attention. If possible, see a doctor/go to the ER.

Once rewarmed, avoid frostbite again in that same affected area. Freezing and thawing over and over again will have irreversible tissue damage to the affected area. If affected body parts have become re-frozen, don't try to defrost it.

Protip: Your numb hands won't be able to tell how hot the water is, have someone else, or an unaffected part of your body test the water to prevent burns. (You don't want to end up freezing, then cooking your hands right?)
Someone must be cooking.