Tips to avoid frostbite, hypothermia with dropping temperatures

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – There’s a good chance temperatures could drop below zero on Thursday night, which means your risk of frostbite and hypothermia goes up if you’re not prepared.

Courtesy: HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital

Frostbite is different from hypothermia. Frostbite is an injury to the skin, where the tissue actually freezes. Symptoms can include a loss of feeling, numbness, or the color of your skin will become pale or white. In extreme cases, skin can turn black. Health experts from HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital said that’s usually when the tissue has died.

If the temperature is zero, and the winds are 15 mph, one could experience frostbite within just 10 minutes of being outside with exposed skin (see chart for more information). Health experts said below zero temperatures are of more concern. Nevertheless, there are ways to protect yourself and your skin.

“A lot of times, it’s skin that’s not covered,” said Hannah Schroeder, registered nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “So, wearing hats, scarfs, goggles, or sunglasses. Mittens are especially good, and layers are most important for preventing frostbite.”

Hypothermia is different from frostbite. Hypothermia is an abnormally low body temperature, which occurs when your body temperature is blow 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include shivering, confusion, exhaustion and even memory loss.

There are ways to treat both frostbite and hypothermia. Health officials said to seek medical help, find a warm room, remove any wet clothes you may still have on, warm up with dry blankets, and most importantly, don’t warm up with hot water, use warm water. Schroeder said you may actually burn yourself if you can’t feel the temperature of the water.

Schroeder said everyone’s body is different, but those who are at high risk in the cold are older adults, those who drink excessively or use illicit drugs, and babies.

Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt

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