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First Aid & Emergencies

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Understanding Frostbite -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent Frostbite?

Frostbite can result in serious consequences, so prevention is extremely important. If you are planning outdoor activities, check weather forecasts frequently and heed warnings about cold temperatures and possible storms that might strand you in dangerous conditions. Avoid risky situations -- such as hikes or camping trips in cold weather -- that may be beyond your experience level. It is also wise to consult local park rangers or other authorities about the weather, terrain, avalanche danger, and other conditions that may interfere with your ability to obtain shelter or emergency help.

To prevent or reduce your risk of frostbite, dress properly in cold temperatures. This includes protecting your hands, feet, nose, and ears. Bundle in warm, layered, and loose-fitting clothes, a hat and scarf or ski mask, warm socks, and mittens (not gloves), and make sure children are properly bundled. Go indoors periodically to warm up. Wet clothing or damp skin can increase the risk of frostbite.

Understanding Frostbite

Find out more about frostbite:



Diagnosis and Treatment


These guidelines may also help you prevent frostbite:

  • If you've just arrived in a cold climate from a warmer one, give your body time to adjust before spending extended periods outside.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during exposure to cold weather because alcohol may keep you from realizing your body is becoming too cold.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes, which can negatively affect circulation and increase the risk of frostbite.
  • At the first sign of redness, blueness, or whiteness or pain in your skin, which may indicate that you are becoming too cold, get out of the cold, warm up, and protect exposed skin.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 09, 2015

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