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Friday, January 14, 2011


This months Backpacker Magazine has a nice quiz on Frostbite to test your knowledge. I'll sum it up here.

  1. Frostbite has two stages: Freeze and Thaw. Thaw is the most dangerous because the thawing releases inflammatory substances that cause blood clots, reduce blood flow and further harm the tissue.
  2. Your toes fingers, ears and Nose are the most susceptible to frost bite because as the the body chills it constricts blood flow to the extremities in order to preserve major organs.
  3. Your body is predisposed to frost bite if you are : Dehydrated, Fatigued, and Hungry. Your body needs calories, water and energy to preserve it's temperature. That's why people who are lost and without shelter suffer most.
  4. Tissue that was frostbitten once is more susceptible in the future.
  5. The medical term for frostbites black dry tissue is Mummification and the area may be saved. It takes 6 weeks plus to determine which tissues are dead. Hence the trem "Frostbite in January, amputate in July"
Those are a few answers to a really good quiz. You can take it in the magazines current issue.

I was trained regarding Frostbite while in the Army and what they showed and taught us has haunted/stuck with me since. Trust me you don't want to see the final results of frostbite.

Before going outside in extremely cold temperature:
  • Apply skin moisturizer to the face, hands, and any other body part that may be exposed to the cold.
  • Dress warmly, wear dry clothing, and stay out of the wind. Wear a face mask for extra protection. Wear heavy mittens instead of gloves in freezing cold weather. When the fingers are together in a mitten, their collective body heat keeps the hand warm. Dress in many loose layers, the base layer being an absorbent one like tech-wik.
  • Children playing outside should be watched carefully to make sure that they do not lose or remove mittens or head-coverings.
  • Be extremely careful when pumping gas into your car if the temperature is below freezing. Gasoline on exposed skin evaporates very quickly, lowers the temperature of the skin, and makes it more susceptible to frostbite.
  • When you exercise in below-freezing temperatures, wear layers of clothing. The more layers you wear, the better insulated you are. The innermost garment must be nonabsorbent and loosely woven.
  • Go inside, if possible, when you feel too cold. Remember that fatigue, lack of oxygen in high elevations, and consumption of alcohol may cause you to disregard discomfort and cold.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking before venturing out into extreme cold. Tobacco decreases circulation by constricting blood vessels, and alcohol interferes with the body's ability to regulate temperature.

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