How to avoid frostbite in extreme cold temperatures

Feb 7, 2023

WORCESTER, Mass. - With the extreme cold air and a wind chill warning in effect across Massachusetts, Saint Vincent Hospital Chief of Medicine Dr. George Abraham is warning people about the dangers of frostbite.

Frostbite causes damage to the skin and underlying tissue and can effect exposed skin in as little as ten minutes. Abraham said people should stay indoors if possible, but if you do have to go outside, dress warm in multiple layers, wear a hat, a scarf to cover your face and mouth, warm boots and gloves.

Abraham also said one of the things to watch for with frostbite is a pins and needles sensation followed by numbness.

"That tells us that we are affecting both the circulation and the nerves, so that is the time to get indoors if one can or otherwise to warm ourselves up," Abraham said. "We want to do that before we see skin color changes of any sort, or even blackening of the tips of our fingers from long exposure, which is really loss of tissue at that point in time."

Abraham said to seek medical care if an affected area stays numb while you're trying to warm it up.

Watch the short video here.

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