Indiana Daily Student

How to avoid frostbite, and what to do if you have it

<p>An IU student walks through campus in the middle of snow flurries on Nov. 16, 2022. It&#x27;s important to know the warning signs of frostbite as temperatures begin to drop below freezing.</p>

An IU student walks through campus in the middle of snow flurries on Nov. 16, 2022. It's important to know the warning signs of frostbite as temperatures begin to drop below freezing.

With temperatures beginning to drop below freezing, it is important to know how to avoid frostbite.  

According to the Mayo Clinic, frostbite can occur in under 30 minutes once temperatures fall below five degrees Fahrenheit.

When temperatures are low, limiting your time outdoors is key. If you must be outside, try to wear multiple layers of dry clothing and ensure no part of your skin is exposed to the cold.  

The first signs of frostbite are changes in skin color, numbness and a prickling feeling. If you experience any of those symptoms, seek warm shelter immediately. According to WebMD, other symptoms of frostbite include itching, swelling and blood-filled blisters. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.  

If you believe you are suffering from frostbite and are unable to get to a hospital or warm shelter, you should call 911, Bloomington Hospital ambulance dispatcher Kara Caldwell said.  

Risk factors that make people more susceptible to frostbite include alcohol or drug use, smoking, mental illness and previous frostbite injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic. Drinking alcohol should be avoided in cold temperatures because it causes loss of body heat. Alcohol widens the blood vessels in the skin which causes the body temperature to drop.  

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