(Adapted from the U.S. Army Survival Manual)
This injury is the result of frozen tissues. Light frostbite
involves only the skin that takes on a dull whitish pallor. Deep
frostbite extends to a depth below the skin. The tissues become
solid and immovable. Your feet, hands, and exposed facial areas
are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.
The best frostbite prevention, when you are with others, is
to use the buddy system. Check your buddys face often and
make sure that he checks yours. If you are alone, periodically
cover your nose and lower part of your face with your mittened
The following pointers will aid you in keeping warm and preventing
frostbite when it is extremely cold or when you have less than
Face. Maintain circulation by twitching and wrinkling the
skin on your face making faces. Warm with your hands.
Ears. Wiggle and move your ears. Warm with your hands.
Hands. Move your hands inside your gloves. Warm by placing
your hands close to your body.
Feet. Move your feet and wiggle your toes inside your boots.
A loss of feeling in your hands and feet is a sign of frostbite.
If you have lost feeling for only a short time, the frostbite
is probably light. Otherwise, assume the frostbite is deep. To
rewarm a light frostbite, use your hands or mittens to warm your
face and ears. Place your hands under your armpits. Place your
feet next to your buddys stomach. A deep frostbite injury,
if thawed and refrozen, will cause more damage than a non-medically
trained person can handle. Some dos and donts regarding
Periodically check for frostbite.
Rewarm light frostbite.
Keep injured areas from refreezing.
Rub injury with snow
Drink alcoholic beverages.
Try to thaw out a deep frostbite injury if you are away from
definitive medical care.
Steve's Notes: Alcohol brings blood to the extremities,
meaning less chance of tissues freezing, but also a faster loss
of body heat. If you absolutely know you will be in a warm shelter
in a few hours, you can use alcohol to prevent frozen toes. It
is a matter of timing, and hypothermia plus worse frostbite could
result if you get it wrong.
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