Frostbite

Frostbite happens when blood vessels and surrounding tissues actually freeze. It ranges from very minor, shallow freezing, often called frost-nip, to the freezing of entire appendages.

Usually re-warming of a frozen area is not recommended in the field, especially if there is a chance of its freezing again. When a frozen area is thawed it becomes extremely painful. Evacuation of the victim of serious frostbite is imperative, and treatment should be done by competent medical professionals.

Should you decide to thaw superficial freezing, do so in warm water that is at least 100° F. and never more than 108° F. as frozen tissue is very susceptible to thermal injury. Also such tissue is extremely vulnerable to infection and gangrene — so after thawing, clean gently with an antiseptic and cover with sterile bandages, and get professional frostbite treatment as soon as possible.

Of course, serious injury is largely preventable by preparing properly for extreme cold conditions.

Return to Mountain Safety from Frostbite page




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