AUSTIN -- With freezing temperatures in Central Texas, health experts have provided some tips on avoiding cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia.
Follow these tips from Scott and White Hospital in Round Rock for staying safe during the cold weather:
- Wear layers to trap warm air and insulate your body. Wool and polypropylene work the best. Also wear a coat that has a wind and waterproof outer layer.
- Your ears, cheeks and nose are more prone to frostbite. Wear turtlenecks, scarves and hats to protect your head and neck.
What to look for: White, waxy or gray-yellow patches on skin. Skin will feel cold and numb. Deep frostbite causes waxy and pale skin. Affected area will feel cold and hard. Large blisters may appear after rewarming.
What to do:
- Get victim out of the cold and into a warm area.
- Remove constrictive clothes and jewelry which could be impairing circulation.
- Upon seeing signs of frostbite, find medical help immediately.
- Put dry, sterile gauze between fingers and toes to get rid of moisture.
- Elevate affected area to help reduce swelling and pain.
- If you cannot get to a medical facility, then you can rewarm the area with lukewarm water (not hot). Immerse the affected area for 20 to 45 minutes until the tissue is soft.
What not to do:
- Don't use water hotter than 105 degrees or colder than 100 degrees.
- Don't rub or massage the affected area.
- Don't rub with ice or snow.
- Don't apply a heat source directly to frostbitten skin.
What to look for: Change in mental status, shivering, cool abdomen and low body temperature. Sometimes those affected with have rigid muscles, dark or puffy skin, an irregular heartbeat and unconsciousness.
What to do:
- Get victim out of the cold and get medical attention.
- Cover their body (including head) with blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers.
- Replace wet clothing with dry clothing.
- Handle them gently. Rough handling can cause cardiac arrest.
- Keep victim in flat position.