More than a dozen patients are receiving inpatient treatment for frostbite at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics’ Burn Treatment Center. For the last week, the center has seen more than 40 calls to its clinic for frostbite.
The center’s director says this year they’re seeing more geriatric patients and stranded motorists. It’s important to remember to be prepared as the subzero temperature continues this week.
- Dress in layers and minimize exposure.
- If driving, make sure the vehicle has a full tank of gas and keep extra warm clothes on hand. Use caution if stranded in your vehicle, it may be better to stay in your car as you wait for assistance.
- Temperature, dampness, and the duration of exposure are all factors that can contribute to frostbite. Consuming alcohol or using recreational drugs may worsen the injury.
- Treatment for frostbite includes rapid re-warming of the affected area in warm–not hot–water. The water should be only slightly warmer than body temperature–about 102-110 degrees F–and the area should be warmed only when it can be kept warm afterward. More damage will result if an area is warmed and then chilled again.
- Keep the injured area should be elevated and protected.
- Be sure to seek medical attention for any frost-bitten extremity. Time is of the essence. The risk of amputation is drastically reduced with immediate treatment.