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Exposure to extreme cold can cause frostbite, which is a serious condition that requires emergency care.

What to Do:
 If you can't get to a hospital right away or must wait for an ambulance, begin this treatment:

  • Go indoors immediately.  Do not try to thaw frostbite unless you're in a warm place (warming and then re-exposing frozen parts to cold can cause permanent damage).
  • Remove wet clothing.  Treat frozen parts gently – don't rub them.
  • Warm the frozen body parts in warm (not hot) water for about 30 minutes.  Do not use dry heat – such as a fireplace, oven, or heating pad – to thaw frostbite.
  • Make sure to warm the entire body – not just the frostbitten parts.  Wrap the rest of the body in blankets.
  • Place clean cotton balls between frostbitten fingers and toes after they've been re-warmed.  Do not break any blisters.
  • Loosely wrap re-warmed areas with clean bandages to prevent refreezing, and keep as still as possible.
  • Take ibuprofen for pain.
  • Get medical care immediately.

Think Prevention!

  • Keep warm in cold weather, especially during winter sports.  Loose-fitting, layered, warm clothes are best, and don't forget well-insulated boots, thick socks, and mittens.

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