With dangerously cold windchills, the best advice offered by medical personnel is to stay indoors, according to Kristen Tindall, clinical lead nurse in the Kishwaukee Hospital emergency department.
“If you must go out, limit the amount of time you are out,” Tindall said. “Frostbite can occur in as little as 5 minutes.”
She offered some recommendations for those who need to venture outdoors:
• Dress appropriately with several layers of loose, warm clothing.
• Cover those layers with windproof, waterproof layers.
• Keep hands covered.
• Keep head, ears, neck and face covered as much as possible with hats and scarves.
• Breathing through the scarf also prevents loss of body heat.
• Be sure your car’s gas tank is filled.
• Emergency supplies in the car should include extra warm clothing, blankets, food like protein bars, water and a charged cellphone.
Tindall said frostbite occurs first on extremities – hands, feet, ears and nose.
“It’s most likely to occur on exposed skin,” Tindall said. “Your skin will be cold and red, and then get numb, hard and turn white. You might feel pain, tingling or burning and the skin will turn red again as it warms up.”
She urged seeking medical help if the skin is swollen, if the redness persists or if there is pus.
Immediate medical attention is required if the patient has a fever, loses feeling in the affected area or the skin turns black.