Be protected from frostbite during extreme cold

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DENVER — Anyone who goes outside while it is so cold needs to protect themselves from the frigid temperatures that are gripping the region.

The following tips about how to stay safe in the extreme cold and prevent frostbite come from UCHealth.

  • Mittens provide better protection than gloves
  • Boots and should not be tied tightly
  • If possible, go inside every 30 minutes to warm up
  • Pack your car with a safety kit that includes socks, mitten, hats, coats and blankets
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Be especially careful when wind accompanies cold weather, as that will reduce the time for frostbite to set in
  • If clothing gets wet, quickly go inside and change to dry clothes

Frostbite is an injury — almost like a burn — that occurs when the skin and tissue freezes after being exposed to extreme cold for too long.

Most frostbite injuries occur on the fingers, toes, nose, cheeks and ears. In most cases, the body part can be rewarmed to avoid long-term injury, but in severe cases, surgery or even amputation may be required.

“Frostbite doesn’t only strike people who do extreme sports,” registered nurse Laura Madsen said. “If your car breaks down, you need protection.”

Dr. Alexis Michopoulos and Madsen said some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Coldness, numbing, tingling and itching
  • Shivering, which is the earliest sign that the body is losing warmth
  • Discoloration of the skin from almost white/yellowish skin to a purplish color
  • More severe signs are blisters and pain on rewarming
  • Mumbling, stumbling and loss of fine motor skills