First Aid/Cold-Related Illness & Injury

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

Treatment for frostbite is as follows:

  • 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. Skin that re-freezes after thawing will have more damage.
  • Remove victim from cold environment, ensure there is no possibility of hypothermia. (If there is, see below.)
  • Fill a shallow container with enough water to cover the frostbitten body part. Make sure the water is at room temperature. The water does not have to be cool, but it cannot be too warm. The warmer the water, the worse the pain.
  • Immerse the injured area, ensure that the skin does not come into contact with anything but the water!
  • Repeat the above step by refreshing the water as it cools until the skin is back to a normal color and texture. This may take several hours depending on the severity of the injury.

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


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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, fumbling hands, or go unconscious, notify EMS.
  • Remove wet clothing from the victim and replace with dry clothing. (A dry hat is recommended to be worn.)
  • 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.

Warning: 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 and notify EMS.

"Nobody's dead until they're warm and dead" First aid procedures must therefore continue until professional help is available.

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