You are here: Home / About Us / News and Media / 2012 News / Top 5 Tips to Avoid Frostbite

Top 5 Tips to Avoid Frostbite

With winter underway, here are some tips to avoid frostbite, both on and off the mountain.

“While frostbite isn’t something we often think about, recognizing the symptoms and being prepared with the right gear can go a long way in avoiding permanent damage.”
— Dr. Howard Ovens, Director, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre

What is frostbite?
• Frostbite is a freezing of the skin and the layer of tissue just below the skin.
• It occurs upon prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, and most commonly affects the smaller, more exposed areas of the body (hands, feet, nose, chin, cheeks and ears).
• Early symptoms may include burning, numbness, tingling, itching or slight pain of the affected area, along with a change in colour of the skin (white, red or grey) and a waxy appearance.

What can I do to avoid frostbite?
1. Avoid being outdoors in the cold for prolonged periods. Maintain fluid and nutritional intake, especially when exercising in the cold.
2. Protect vulnerable areas! Wear a warm hat that covers your ears, mittens instead of gloves, and warm winter boots. Wear layers that can be removed if you get too warm.
3. Avoid drinking alcohol when you know you will be outside in the cold.
4. Keep extra layers of warm clothing in your car should you become stranded in the cold.
5. Have a friend check your ears, nose or other exposed areas that you can’t see for signs of frostbite.