With temperatures consistently dropping below freezing in South Jersey, exposure to the elements can be dangerous. Here's how to tell the difference between frost bite and hypothermia.

What is frost bite?

Frostbite occurs when the skin is exposed to extreme or prolonged cold. The skin freezes, as do tissues beneath the surface of the skin. In extreme cases, muscle, nerves, and blood vessels may also freeze. (Healthline)

Symptoms of frost bite:

  • numbness
  • a redness or irritation of the skin
  • pain in extremities
  • skin turning white, gray, or yellowish
  • skin feeling tight or waxy

What to do if you think you or someone you know may have frost bite:

According to researchers at Mayo Clinic, if you're outside, warm the hands or feet by tucking them into your armpits. Protect your face, nose or ears by covering the area with dry, gloved hands. Don't rub the affected area and don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible. Get out of the cold.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. (WebMD)

Symptoms of hypothermia:

  • bright red skin
  • shivering
  • exhaustion
  • drowsiness
  • slurred speech
  • memory loss or confusion

What to do if you think you or someone you know may have hypothermia:

The Mayo Clinic advises you call 911 or your local emergency number if you suspect hypothermia. Gently move the person inside if possible. Jarring movements can trigger dangerous irregular heartbeats. Carefully remove his or her wet clothing, replacing it with warm, dry coats or blankets.

Keep in mind many of the symptoms of frost bite and hypothermia can extend to pets. If it's too cold outside for you, it's too cold for them.

 

SOURCES: Mayo Clinic; WebMD; Healthline

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