How to treat frostbite emergency treatment

The freezing of a body part is most likely to occur in weather below 20°F, especially when there is wind. A frostbitten area looks white and feels rigid to the touch. The part feels numb to the victim and cannot be moved.

Get a victim to a hospital; if that’s not possible, warm the frozen area in lukewarm, not hot, water (100°F to 105°F). Handle the frozen parts gently; don’t rub them. When the part has thawed, it will be very painful. The victim must refrain from smoking.

Don’t apply ointment or medication to the thawed areas; instead, dry them and wrap them with sterile gauze. If fingers or toes were frozen, place sterile gauze pads between them. Elevate the thawed limb while transporting the person to a hospital as soon as possible. Don’t allow the parts to refreeze.