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How to spot and treat frostbite, hypothermia other winter health risks

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With cold weather comes increased risk of several kinds of health concerns. Here's a quick guide on what to do if you or a loved one is affected. (Shutterstock)

As a massive storm climbs the Eastern Seaboard, states from Florida to Maine could face extreme winter weather.

With cold weather comes increased risk of several kinds of health concerns. Here's a guide to spotting these in yourself and loved ones.

FROSTBITE
What it is: Skin tissue has frozen up.
What it looks like: The affected area, usually extremities like fingers and toes, goes numb and turns grayish-yellow or white.
What to do: Seek medical help. Immerse frostbitten area in warm water. Don't rub it.
How to prevent it: Bundle up and know the risks. The colder it is and the higher the wind speeds, the quicker you can get it.


Where can I learn more? From the Centers for Disease Control

HYPOTHERMIA
What it is: The body is losing heat faster than it can replace it.
What it looks like: The person may be shivering or confused and in severe cases can lose consciousness. If their temperature is below 95 degrees, it's an emergency.
What to do: Move the person to a dry, warm place and give them a warm, sugary beverage without caffeine. If it's severe, call 911.
How to prevent it: As with frostbite, the best defense is dressing properly and avoiding prolonged exposure.
Learn more: From the Centers for Disease Control

TRENCH FOOT
What it is: It's like a less severe version of frostbite, and it's only in the feet.
What it feels like: You'll have tingling or burning, and sometimes blisters.
What to do: Soak your feet in warm water. Drink a warm, sugary beverage.
How to prevent it: Keep your feet dry, especially in the cold, and change socks as often as possible.
Learn more: From the Occupational Health & Safety Administration

ICE-RELATED INJURIES
Risks on ice: When you slip and fall, it can cause fractures, sprains or broken bones, especially in ankles and wrists.
What to do: If you fell and think you hurt something, seek help sooner rather than later because your injury could get worse with time.
How do I prevent it? This handout gives you a step-by-step, but the gist of it is to walk like a penguin and if you do fall, don't tense up.

SNOW SHOVELING RISKS
The dangers: Blood vessels tighten up in the cold. That and any extra exertion could increase the risk of a heart attack.
How to prevent it: When shoveling snow, go slow and avoid consuming alcohol, which could increase your risk, an American Heart Association spokesperson told ABC News.

CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) POISONING
What CO is: It's a colorless, odorless gas that is emitted from fuel-burning appliances, cars and combustion equipment.
Why it's dangerous: The air can become dangerous for people and animals when CO is not allowed to vent, like when cars are left running in garages.
What CO poisoning looks like: Symptoms include headache, dizziness and confusion.
What to do: CO poisoning can turn deadly quickly. Turn off the appliance and leave the affected area immediately. Then seek medical attention.
How to prevent it: Never run a CO-emitting device in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. Know the symptoms so you can recognize CO poisoning in yourself when you see it.
Learn more: From this CDC fact page and the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Related Topics:
healthcoldweathersnowhealthwinter weathersevere weather