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NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION OF HOW TO TREAT FROSTNIP AND FROSTBITE APPLIES TO BOTH KIDS AND ADULTS!
Nothing will ruin a winter adventure faster than your kids getting frostnip or frostbite. And it happens all the time. One minute you’re having fun building a snowman and the next your kid’s falling apart at the seams as the tingling in their fingertips turns to pins and needles…or worse.
Kids fall victim to the cold for a few reasons. A big one is they ignore the signs of discomfort simply so they can stay outside and play longer. Another reason is that kids’ hands and bodies are smaller than adults’, so there’s less blood pumping around and less body fat to insulate them. They just lose body heat quicker.
But, before we get too far down this frosty road, let’s take a minute to define our terms and the symptoms of frostnip and frostbite for kids.
Frostnip is much less dangerous and much more common than frostbite. Just about everyone has experienced frostnip. The outermost layers of skin may approach freezing, but there is no damage to cells. Skin becomes cold, turns red, you may start to feel a tingling, painful sensation. If you start to feel numbness, it’s just on the very tips of your extremities.
Frostnip usually targets cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, and toes. As they warm up, fingers and toes can feel especially painful as they have more nerve endings. Frostnip does not create any long term damage.
Frostbite = frozen flesh. As in the fluids in your tissues actually turn to ice. Skin turns white as blood leaves the affected area and becomes numb. If you lose all sensation of cold or pain, then immediate treatment is required.
The severity of frostbite is based on how deep the flesh is frozen. Mild cases will only freeze superficial layers of skin. Dead skin will just peel away in a few days. The worst cases will freeze muscle and bone. At this point, you’re losing large chunks of fingertips, ears and toes. Most kids don’t have to worry about frostbite unless you’re a family of hardcore mountaineers or get stuck outside in a blizzard.
When you’re at home or have access to indoor shelter, your biggest challenge will be to get your kids to stop playing. Although, the more painful the frostnip the easier it’ll be. Once you’ve put an end to their polar playtime, here’s what you need to do to treat your child’s frostnip:
Treating frostnip in the wild is a little different than at home, but the principles remain the same.
Frostbite is no joke whether you’re at home or in the wild. Your location doesn’t matter. You need to get to an emergency room ASAP. To treat frostbite, you can follow the same steps as shown above for frostnip, but there are some key differences.
Your best course of action is to avoid frostnip and frostbite altogether. Lead by example. Don’t be a tough guy. Your kids watch everything you do and follow suit. They already think you’re a superhero, so you’ve got nothing to prove to them. Get in the habit of wearing hats, gloves, and layers when temps drop. Or at the very least, have them handy so your kids see you’re prepared with the right gear.
Keep these tips in mind and frostnip and frostbite won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ruining your winter play.
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