First Aid Cold Related Injury

Frostbite

Frostbite is when tissues freeze. If the frozen tissue is more than skin deep, this is considered deep frostbite.

Treatment for frostbite:

  • Notify EMS as soon as possible or be prepared to transport victim to a medical facility, even after treatment of frostbite.
  • Make sure there is no risk of re-freezing.
  • Remove victim from cold environment; remove any wet clothing.
  • Use body contact (skin to skin) and blankets to warm the victim.
  • Fill a container with enough water to cover the frostbitten body part. Make sure the water is at room temperature. Submerge affected body part in water. The water does not have to be cool, but it cannot be too warm.

     Remember to transport the victim to a medical assistance for further assessment after the above steps.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature drops so low the body can no longer warm itself back up. Severe hypothermia is classified as when the body drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Treatment for victims of hypothermia is as follows:

Don’t do this!
Never jostle a victim of extreme hypothermia as this may cause cardiac arrest!
  • Remove the victim from the cold environment.
  • For cases of extreme hypothermia, where the patient is showing signs of confusion, slurred speech, notify EMS.
  • Remove wet clothing from the victim and replace with dry clothing.
  • Wrap victim in blankets.
  • Use heat packs to warm the patient. Do not allow the packs to touch naked skin.
  • Victims who are alert may drink warm liquids, however, do not give any drinks containing alcohol, caffeine, or give a drink that is too hot.

NOTE: Victims of hypothermia may become worse as they warm, this is due to cold blood moving towards the core of the body. If a patient goes unconscious, check their ABCs.

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