Health risks in extreme cold - and what to do about them

Mayo Clinic emergency medicine specialist Dr. David Nestler talks about how cold weather affects our bodies and what we need to know about frostbite:

“It’s a shame whenever anyone gets a frostbite injury,” says Lawrence Gottlieb, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and director of the Burn and Complex Wound Center. “People need to be aware of it and take precautions when the temperature drops, like it has this week. Be especially cautious when temps fall below zero, especially when there is a strong wind. Obviously, wear warm clothes. If you are driving a long way, especially at night, make sure you have enough extra clothes to cover up effectively if you get stuck somewhere. And don’t get stuck. Put enough gas in the car.”

Tips for people who go out in the cold

- If the temperature is below zero you could sustain a cold injury in less than 15 minutes.
- Mittens are warmer than gloves.
- Insulate the affected body part to prevent additional heat loss and damage.
- Immobilize and protect the frostbitten tissues from further injury.
- Prevent thaw-refreeze cycles. Do not begin rewarming until there is no risk of further exposure.
- Once in the hospital, physicians recommend rapid rewarming in a water bath at 104°-107.6°F (40°- 42°C) for 15-30 minutes until thawing is complete.


Chicago midwinter – a user’s guide for preventing frostbite | Science Life

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