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Frostbite

Frostbite should be treated immediately

When the temperature of a specific part of your body falls, this is usually called frostbite. Frostbite can be either superficial or deep. Your cheeks, nose, fingers and toes are particularly exposed. It is important to constantly keep a careful eye on the members of your party, and be vigilant about your own well-being.

For superficial frostbite

Symptoms of superficial frostbite are cold, white skin and small, sharp pains that are followed by a loss of sensation. However, the person suffering from frostbite is not always aware of the pain, since bad weather or other types of stress can lead attention away from the body’s signals.

• Seek protection from the wind and rain, for example by going down into the forest.
• Keep moving, for example by walking in deep snow.
• Add another layer of clothing.
• Drink something warm and sweet.
• Heat the exposed area skin-against-skin, and be careful to never rub (and never, ever, rub with snow).
• Frozen cheeks can be warmed using a hand.
• Frozen hands can be warmed in your own or a friend’s armpits.
• Frozen feet are warmed in a friend’s armpits.
• Warm the body part until sensation, colour and mobility return, which usually takes around 20-30 minutes.
• Protect the affected area from additional frostbite injuries.

Advanced frostbite injuries require medical attention

If you have done everything you can in accordance with the above instructions and still have not regained any sensation, colour or mobility after 20-30 minutes, your frostbite injury is serious. The consequences of deep frostbite can be very grave and your tissue may have sustained long-term damage. You should immediately contact a doctor to receive proper care. Extensive superficial frostbite can also increase the risk of hypothermia.

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