Watch out for frostbite during extreme cold


The article on hypothermia that appeared in the Saturday, Dec. 29, edition of the Cortez Journal contained valuable information. Hypothermia can be fatal.

Frostbite is a condition that is more common in extreme cold. It affects extremities only: fingers, toes, nose and ears. Uncovered extremities are at greatest risk, sometimes in just a few minutes of exposure, but even covered ones can be affected in less than an hour of cold conditions.

Extremities exposed to cold turn red as the body increases blood flow in an effort to warm the impacted area. If the exposed extremity changes color from red to white, this is a warning sign of frostbite. This occurs because the capillaries carrying warm blood constrict as a result of the cold and are no longer able to supply warmth to the extremity. A loss of feeling often accompanies this restriction of blood flow. Adults as well as children need to be aware of this color change for themselves as well as others to help prevent frostbite.

The response to frostbite is to gradually warm the impacted area with warm, not hot, water or other substance.

Serious frostbite can lead to amputation, so it is important for people to watch out for the safety of one another, especially children and the elderly, during extreme cold.

Greg Kemp