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Watch for Frostbite, Hypothermia as Temps Drop

This weekend, much of the country will see the coldest temperatures of the season, with lows at or below zero and dangerously frigid windchills. Staying indoors is the best way to avoid frostbite and hypothermia, but that isn’t an option when livestock need to be fed.

If you do have to go outdoors, wear several layers of loose clothing, use mittens rather than gloves if chores allow, cover ears, and choose socks and boots that will keep feet warm and dry. Without proper protection – and in some cases, even with all the right gear – those who spend time outside in freezing temperatures may be affected by frostbite or hypothermia.

Frostbite is a common injury due to the cold, usually affecting the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin. Skin that has frostbite appears white, waxy, or grayish-yellow and is cold and numb. In extreme cases, blisters may form and the skin tissue can die and turn black. If left untreated, this can lead to amputation.

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation offers these steps for treating frostbite.

  1. Get indoors immediately.
  2. Seek medical attention.
  3. Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could impair circulation.
  4. Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together.
  5. Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling.
  6. If the frostbite is superficial only, place the affected area in 100° F. to 105° F. water until the tissue softens.

Hypothermia is a much more dangerous condition. Symptoms include shivering, which leads to exhaustion, confusion, shallow breathing, irregular heartbeat, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and eventually, loss of consciousness, or even death. People with extreme cases may even feel warm and start to undress.

Follow these steps from the Progressive Agriculture Foundation if you suspect someone has hypothermia.

  1. Move the victim inside and remove any wet clothing.
  2. Call for medical help and give CPR, if necessary.
  3. Add blankets, pillows, towels, or even newspapers beneath and around the victim.
  4. Cover the person’s head.
  5. Handle the person gently to avoid cardiac arrest.
  6. Keep the victim in a horizontal position.

Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, a project of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, is celebrating 25 years in 2019, with more than 400 events planned in rural communities throughout North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit www.progressiveag.org or call 888/257-3529. Help send a child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a $13 donation by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or by visiting progressiveag.org/Donate

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