Frostbite is the second most common cold-based injury. As discussed in a prior article, winter brings with it a whole host of new and unexpected injuries. In addition to the increased risk of crashing your vehicle or getting a concussion slipping on some black ice, you also must contend with the elements. The human body can generate its own heat. However, it is a constant battle between you and the cold. This article will discuss the risks and treatments for frostbite.
Frostbite affects the extremities of your body like ears, nose, feet and hands. It results when parts of your body slowly freeze because the cold overwhelms the warmth brought by your blood. Prolonged exposure can result in permanent nerve damage and even necrosis, which would mandate amputating the affected areas.
Luckily, frostbite is relatively easy to catch in time, unlike hypothermia. As a result of the reduced blood flow discussed above, your skin will begin to appear blue, waxy or pale. You may also feel an aching, tingling or stinging feeling in the affected areas. Eventually, the affected areas will begin to numb.
Once you identify that you are getting frostbite, you must get into a warm room as quickly as possible. If your hands or feet are affected, then immerse them in a bowl of warm water. Do not use hot water; your body’s temperature must rise gradually. Furthermore, you can warm the affected areas with body heat (armpits are a quick fix for hands). If possible, do not walk on frostbitten toes and refrain from massaging the affected areas.
If you suffered nerve damage or even lost an ear to frostbite while on the job, then you may have an actionable claim against your employer. You may want to consult with an employment lawyer to review your rights.