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.
- 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.