(WXYZ) — The impending snowstorm is bringing with it the coldest temperatures of the season, putting your health and safety at risk.
One of the biggest dangers of the subzero weather is frostbite.
The bitter cold temperatures increase your risk of experiencing frostbite. That’s when your skin and underlying tissues get cold enough to actually freeze.
Frostbite occurs because your body kicks into survival mode during the bitter cold, reducing blood circulation to the extremities in order to protect the vital inner organs.
You can develop frostbite whenever the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And when you add in a wind chill factor as we are expected to get this weekend, the risk increases dramatically. Frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes.
Of course, the best way to prevent frostbite is to stay inside as much as possible. But if you must go outside, there are some precautions you should take:
- Bundle up! Your fingers, toes, nose and ears are the most vulnerable to frostbite. So, wear thick socks, a hat, scarf and gloves to prevent exposed skin.
- Dress in layers to help trap warm air against your body.
- Stay hydrated, eat regular meals and stay active to keep your blood flowing .
- Don't drink alcohol
- Stay dry. Remove any wet clothing as soon as possible.
- Limit your time outside.
Here are signs to look out for:
- A prickly, burning sensation followed by numbness
- Your skin changes color, becoming red, white, blue or a pale white-yellow tone
- Your skin becomes waxy or tough looking
- You have stiffness in the joints or muscles
- In severe cases, you get blistering or your skin turns black
If you notice any of these symptoms after being out in the bitter cold, the first thing you want to do is gradually bring feeling back into the body. You can do that by placing your hands and feet in warm water or using a warm washcloth to rub them. But never use hot water.
If the sensation does not return to your body or if your skin turns gray or you have other serious symptoms, seek medical attention immediately so that the damage doesn’t become permanent.
Winter in Michigan can be beautiful, and we can’t stay inside throughout the season. The key is knowing how to protect yourself when you do go outdoors.
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