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Too much of a cold thing can result in hypothermia and frostbite.  Frostbite is relatively common, as are mild forms of hypothermia.  But both have a potential to be deadly or debilitating, so parents should use extra caution.

First-Aid for Frostbite

How tell if a child has frostbite?

Frostbite is relatively rare, though it is a serious condition that needs to be taken very seriously. If your child comes in complaining of pain, coldness or tingling on his fingers, toes, ears, nose, or other extremities, examine the area.

If the skin is white, purple, red, or blistering, this is a sign of frostbite. Quick action is necessary in order to prevent the possibility of permanent sensation loss, nerve damage, or even the need for amputation.

Mild frostbite:

Mild frostbite is common.  It is shown usually by white, waxy, or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas.  The skin feels cold and numb.  The skin surface may feel stiff.

Treating mild frostbite:

Get the person inside and out of the cold immediately.  Remove all restrictive clothing.  You can warm your child’s frostbitten part by placing the hand or foot against your belly, or wrapping the frostbitten member in blankets. You also might place it in warm (not hot) water. Do not rub the area. Monitor the child and the suspected frostbite. Seek medical attention if needed.

Treating severe frostbite:

The skin usually looks waxy and pale.  Blisters may also form.  The person may have lost sensations to the affected part of their body.  Deep frostbite needs to be treated by medical personnel.  Get the person indoors and to a doctor or emergency room immediately.  Do not rub the frostbitten area.

First-aid for Hypothermia

Symptoms of hypothermia include a change in the person’s mental status or cognitive ability, uncontrollable shivering, a cool abdomen, and low body temperatures.  Extreme hypothermia may cause rigid muscles, dark, puffy skin, an irregular heartbeat, irregular breathing, or unconsciousness.

To treat hypothermia, get the victim indoors into a warm environment.  Remove any wet clothing.  If you suspect anything more than mild hypothermia, contact emergency help immediately.  Handle the patient gently, and cover them with any insulation you can find, such as pillows, blankets, clothing, or if necessary, newspaper or another person.  Be sure to cover the person’s head as well, as most heat escapes through the head.

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