How to avoid frostbite in the dangerous cold

With temperatures dropping to dangerous lows, it's important to know how to keep yourself safe from frostbite and hypothermia. The Quad Cities might face it's coldest high since 1871. UnityPoint Health Trinity has put out tips on how to stay safe in the bone-chilling cold.

It only takes minutes for exposed skin to be as risk for frostbite. If you have to go outside make sure you're covered up. Wear multiple layers of light clothing, a water-resistant coat, gloves, and water-resistant boots. Cover your head with a hat, scarf, or knitted mask. Make sure your outfit isn't too heavy or too tight- you still need to be able to move.

You can mostly avoid frostbite by staying bundled up and dry. However, you still need to be careful to limit your time in the cold. Symptoms of frostbite include pale or blue skin that feels cold, numb, and stiff or rubbery to the touch. If you start to notice redness in your ears, nose, fingers, or toes and feel a tingling you should get into a warm place as soon as possible. Several locations in the Quad Cities have opened their doors as warming centers.

Frostbite should be evaluated by a medical professional, but there are ways to treat yourself in a pinch. To treat frostbite avoid putting pressure on the afflicted area. Walking on frostbitten feet or massaging hands may increase the damage. Do not rub snow on frostbite. Instead, slowly warm the affected area by immersing it in warm water or with body heat. Do not use direct heat from stoves, fires, or heating pads as your body will be numb and you can be easily burned.

Hypothermia is a serious condition when your body temperature is abnormally low. Early symptoms include shivering, clumsy movements and cold, pale, or blue-gray skin. Hypothermia requires immediate emergency assistance as it can quickly lead to unconsciousness and death if the heat loss is not stopped.

Your best advice is to stay warm and dry. If you need to be outside check yourself every half hour for signs of frostbite. If your toes, fingers, ears, or any other body part feel numb, go inside.

For continued weather coverage check out WQAD's updated forecast.

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