How to spot and treat frostbite, hypothermia other winter health dangers

How to spot and treat frostbite, hypothermia other winter health risks
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With cold weather comes increased risk of several kinds of health concerns. Here's a quick guide on what to do if you or a loved one is affected.

With cold weather comes increased risk of several kinds of health concerns. Here's a guide to spotting these in yourself and loved ones.


What it is: Skin tissue has frozen up.

What it looks like: The affected area, usually extremities like fingers and toes, goes numb and turns grayish-yellow or white.

What to do: Seek medical help. Immerse frostbitten area in warm water. Don't rub it.

How to prevent it: Bundle up and know the risks. The colder it is and the higher the wind speeds, the quicker you can get it.

National Weather Service

Where can I learn more? From the Centers for Disease Control


What it is: The body is losing heat faster than it can replace it.

What it looks like: The person may be shivering or confused and in severe cases can lose consciousness. If their temperature is below 95 degrees, it's an emergency.

What to do: Move the person to a dry, warm place and give them a warm, sugary beverage without caffeine. If it's severe, call 911.

How to prevent it: As with frostbite, the best defense is dressing properly and avoiding prolonged exposure.

Learn more: From the Centers for Disease Control


What it is: It's like a less severe version of frostbite, and it's only in the feet.

What it feels like: You'll have tingling or burning, and sometimes blisters.

What to do: Soak your feet in warm water. Drink a warm, sugary beverage.

How to prevent it: Keep your feet dry, especially in the cold, and change socks as often as possible.

Learn more: From the Occupational Health & Safety Administration


Risks on ice: When you slip and fall, it can cause fractures, sprains or broken bones, especially in ankles and wrists.

What to do: If you fell and think you hurt something, seek help sooner rather than later because your injury could get worse with time.

How do I prevent it? This handout gives you a step-by-step, but the gist of it is to walk like a penguin and if you do fall, don't tense up.


The dangers: Blood vessels tighten up in the cold. That and any extra exertion could increase the risk of a heart attack.

How to prevent it: When shoveling snow, go slow and avoid consuming alcohol, which could increase your risk, an American Heart Association spokesperson told ABC News.


What CO is: It's a colorless, odorless gas that is emitted from fuel-burning appliances, cars and combustion equipment.

Why it's dangerous: The air can become dangerous for people and animals when CO is not allowed to vent, like when cars are left running in garages.

What CO poisoning looks like: Symptoms include headache, dizziness and confusion.

What to do: CO poisoning can turn deadly quickly. Turn off the appliance and leave the affected area immediately. Then seek medical attention.

How to prevent it: Never run a CO-emitting device in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. Know the symptoms so you can recognize CO poisoning in yourself when you see it.

Learn more: From this CDC fact page and the Department of Housing and Urban Development