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Preventing Frostbite in the Bitter Cold

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MANKATO , MINN. -

When it is cold outside, it is important to bundle up to prevent frostbite.  With the wind chills in the 30 below zero range today and into tonight, it is vital to stay protected.

Frostbite can take only a few minutes to set in if you are unprotected in temperatures like this.  If you venture out, make sure to cover your extremities like fingers, toes, and ears.  If you do show symptoms of frostbite, or frostnip, the first stage of frostbite, use warm water between 100 and 102 degrees.

Dr. Chris Anderson, Emergency Medicine Staff Physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, stresses that there are dangers to using very hot water.  "Once you get too hot, you can actually cause more tissue damage.  You also don't want to rub the tissue.  Some people think massaging the tissue helps, but that can actually cause more tissue damage as well."

The elderly and young children are more susceptible to frostbite.  Avoid alcohol also if you will be going outdoors, and try to get inside frequently.