Frostbite Intro




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...and he was hard as a rock from the knee down.  Bone chilling hard.  If you've felt it, you'll never forget it.

Imagine the cold sinking it's teeth into you!  Frostbite is an injury caused by cold; when affected tissues are frozen.  Generally, local areas which are most exposed are affected, such as ears, face and nose and areas which are farthest from the heart, such as the hands and feet.


 A person who ventures out into the cold without adequate protection against the elements is more likely to get frostbite.

Keep the trunk of your body warm.  If your core temperature drops then your body will stop sending blood out to the hands and feet in order to save heat for your vital organs, such as your brain, heart, and lungs.  This is when frostbite can set in.

Think of your body as a house with hot water heat.  If you are low on oil or gas to heat the water, you would most likely shut off the heat to rooms you didn't need or use that much, like the laundry room.  You would keep the heat in the kitchen and living room where all the food is kept and other things needed to survive.

Your body does the same thing.  It shuts off the blood which is the hot water that moves the heat around to rooms or parts of the body that aren't needed.

You can tell your body is doing this by pushing down on your nails when you're cold.  The blood that makes the nail beds pink is slow to return and the nail bed stays white for a little bit.

In addition, you do not want to hinder your body's circulation by wearing tight clothing that will slow down your extremities from getting the hot water heat it needs.

It is also critically important that you provide good fuel for your furnace in the form of good nutrition and proper hydration.  This will provide lots of heat for your blood to pass around.

How Can You Tell When You've Got Frostbite?

Frostbite burns can be only on the surface or can run deep depending upon the severity of the case of frostbite. There are three general categories of frostbite: 

bullet  Frostnip minor: no tissue damage, victim usually unaware.  Companions must keep an eye on each other.  Look for white spots on nose, ears, hands, etc.  Put the affected part on some warm skin. 


bullet  Superficial Frostbite: Serious, 2nd Degree of frostbite involves only skin and other layers near surface.  Skin is white, waxy and hard.  DO NOT RUB FROST BITTEN AREA!  Get area covered lightly and keep it from getting colder.  Once it starts to warm it will be very painful.  Blisters might form a few hours after exposure.  Proper treatment is very important. 


bullet  Deep Frostbite: Body part is frozen all the way to the bone.  It's white, yellow-white, or blue-white and hard as wood.   Do not try to re-warm in the field, must be done in the hospital by doctors.


What Happens In Frostbite?

Water in the cells form crystals.  The crystals have razor sharp edges that cut up the cell walls.  The chemical balance of the cells is also thrown off.

How Is It Treated?

It depends on the type: Frostnip can be re-warmed.  Anything more severe should be taken to the hospital.  This is due to the risk of infection.  At a hospital they can monitor heart rate, blood content and closely control the rate of re-warming to minimize tissue damage.

Never! Never! Never!



bullet Never rub frost bitten area with anything! 
bullet  Never pop blisters that form as a result of Frostbite! 
bulletNever go into the cold unprepared. 

Remember: streaking is a seasonal sport!






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
[ Frostbite Intro ] Frostbite Symptoms ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Heat Loss Bear Song ] COLD Key Bear Song ] Insulation Basics ] Frostbite ] Hypothermia ] Breaking Through Ice ] Responsibility to Group ] Women's Hygiene ] Permission Forms ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.