Last year, the coldest recorded day of the year in Drumheller was January 1, 2018, at -38 degrees Celsius. Here are ways to protect yourself from frostbite.
Frostbite is one of those conditions that could show signs of discomfort immediately or become prolonged due to an individuals pain tolerance. One thing is for sure; Frostbite can detrimentally affect your health but it is preventable.
Frostbite is damage to a body part caused by cold and is most commonly inflicted on the ears, nose, cheeks, chin, finger and toes. This fact was provided by Doctor Rithesh Ram from Riverside Medical.
"Make sure that kids are going out with the proper attire. They have the proper mittens and gloves; not just the thins ones when it's minus 15 or minus 20," explained Dr. Ram. "Another big one that can fall to the wayside is that they need to be dry. Kids are going to go outside. They're going to be playing in the snow and it's going to be wet. Even if they are wearing all of that appropriate stuff but it's completely wet, they can still get frostbite."
Symptoms of frostbite can include cold, numb skin. The skin could look white or gray and feel hard or waxy. The affected area can be difficult to move and severe cases of frostbite can leave skin black in color.
"If you do get frostbite, sometimes is a bit of a delayed reaction to know that and you can definitely come in here (Riverside Medical) and see us and we'll access you and see where you're at," Ram said. "But, in general, prevention, like anything, is the biggest thing."
Ram also commented that frostbite can occur in temperatures that don't feel extremely harsh. For example, a winter day where the wind is blowing, although it may only be minus 5, can affect the epidermis (skin) in ways where temperatures can feel closer to minus 15. He stresses that facial winter masks and toques/hats that cover the majority of the face can prevent unwanted facial frostbite.
"Unfortunately us adults, we probably wait too long to actually decide and see. Because I have seen cases where it's not just discoloration and numbness but black. It does not repair or fix itself. Amputation is usually a big case in those. It's not so much that it's the frostbite, it's the potential that (the affected area) can get Gangrene or another very serious infection."
Protecting yourself this winter from frostbite and other infections that can come from not covering up appropriately all comes down to prevention. Proper outerwear is the only way to effectively battle the cold. If you or someone you know is displaying the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical advice or attention immediately.