The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway: Frostbite Facts

Unlike Elsa from Disney’s hit movie, Frozen, the human body can be bothered a great deal by the cold. While winter retreats or year-round camps can offer a unique cold-weather experience, it is important that your organization understands the additional risks associated with the cold. Particularly, the cold’s effect on your employees, guests, and equipment. Since a multitude of things could be covered under this topic, this article will focus on how to prevent and treat frostbite that may come from winter activities.

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissue. Some of the most common causes of frostbite are exposure to cold-weather conditions without wearing suitable clothing, staying out in the cold too long, or touching materials such as ice or frozen metal. The resulting frostbite could include complications such as increased sensitivity to the cold, long-term numbness in the affected area, infection, and more.

Understanding that everyone, especially children, are susceptible to frostbite, it is important that proper measures are taken to protect the skin. Below is a list of tips for frostbite prevention:

  1. Limit Time Outdoors – Stay informed with local forecasts to set limits for outdoor time. This chart from weather.gov shows how long it can take frostbite to develop in varying temperatures and windspeeds.

  1. Dress Properly – Areas such as the ears, nose, cheeks, chin, toes, and fingers are most susceptible to frostbite so it is important that you cover these areas with a hat, headband, scarf, socks, and mittens. As for the rest of your body, dress in several layers of warm clothing and be sure to quickly change any layers that become wet.

  2. Fuel the Body – Eating a good meal and staying hydrated helps the body stay warm in cold conditions. This fuel will help keep people moving and blood flowing.

  3. Watch for Warning Signs – While these other preventative measures are helpful, they are not a guarantee that someone won’t get frostbite. Since frostbite is hard to sense personally, it is important that you take a proactive role of educating and assessing others for early signs of frostbite, early signs include red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness.

If you do notice signs of frostbite, you must act immediately. Treat frostbite by taking the victim to a warm place and placing affected skin in warm, not hot, water or applying warm compresses. Provide warm drinks and elevate frostbitten parts. Do not rub or massage the affected area — tender frostbitten skin may be rubbed off. Seek medical assistance.

Now with a better understanding of frostbite, you and your campers can stay warm and not let the cold bother your fun winter camping experience. For additional questions on this topic and others, contact Church Mutual Insurance Company’s Risk Control Central.

The information contained in this article is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on this article. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in this article.

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Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)
P.O. Box 357 | 3000 Schuster Lane | Merrill, WI 54452-0357
Telephone (800) 554-2642 or (715) 536-5577

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Church Mutual is a stock insurer whose policyholders are members of the parent mutual holding company formed on 1/1/20. S.I. = a stock insurer.