AUSTIN (KXAN) – One of the main things the First Warning Weather team has been warning you about this week is frostbite. Since wind chills will be close to zero degrees this week, it is easier to get frostbite than usual.
What is frostbite?
When temperatures drop, your blood vessels constrict. This prevents blood from circulating to parts of your body that can easily freeze, such as your fingers, toes and nose.
Frostbite occurs in four stages:
- First degree is where the surface of the skin freezes.
- Second degree is when the skin freezes and hardens. Blisters form.
- Third degree is when muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels freeze.
- Fourth degree is when your skin turns black and blue. At this point, your fingers, nose or toes my require an amputation.
How to prevent frostbite
To prevent frostbite, stay inside if you can. If you must go outside, keep your skin covered. Wear gloves, scarves and hats. Stay out of the wind whenever possible, a powerful wind chill can increase your chance of getting frostbite.
Also, avoid caffeine. It constricts blood vessels and makes it harder to stay warm. Also avoid alcohol, which reduces shivering. Shivering is your body’s way of staying warm.
What to do if you have frostbite
If you think you have frostbite, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend you avoid touching the frozen area. Putting pressure on frostbitten fingers or toes can cause damage. The CDC also recommends not massaging or rubbing the frostbitten area in an attempt to warm them. That can cause more damage.
Use warm water, not hot, to slowly help the area recover. Finally, and of course, call 9-1-1.