How ready for winter are you? Are you aware of the potential impacts to your skin from exposure to the cold?

Frostbite is a medical condition when skin or body tissue is damaged from freezing. It’s most common in parts of the body farthest from your heart that are exposed, such as fingers, toes, ears and nose. The following are some tips for you to keep your body protected from the cold!

  • Dress in loose, comfortable layers. Air trapped between the layers of clothing acts as insulation against the cold. The first layer should be made of a synthetic material, which wicks moisture away from your body. The next layer should be insulating, such as wool or fleece. The top layer should be windproof and waterproof.
  • Protect your feet and toes: To protect your feet and toes, wear two pairs of socks. The first pair, next to your skin, should be made of moisture-wicking fabric. Place a pair of wool or wool-blend socks on top of those. Your boots should also provide adequate insulation. They should be waterproof and cover your ankles. Make sure that nothing feels tight, as tight clothing increases the risk of frostbite.
  • Protect your head by wearing a heavy wool or fleece hat. If you are outside on a bitterly cold day, cover your face with a scarf or face mask. This warms the air you breathe and helps prevent frostbite on your nose and face.
  • Protect your hands with insulated mittens or gloves. You might also try hand warmers. Have an extra set of gloves inside your car in case yours get wet. If you use foot warmers, be sure they don't make your boots too tight, restricting blood flow.
  • Make sure snow cannot get inside of your boots or clothing: Wet clothing increases the risk of developing frostbite. While outdoors, if you start to sweat, cut back on your activity or unzip your jacket a bit.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, as becoming dehydrated also increases the risk of developing frostbite. Even if you are not thirsty, drink at least one glass of water before you head outside or an outdoor workout. In addition, avoid alcohol, as it increases your risk for frostbite.
  • Plan ahead! When traveling in cold weather, carry emergency supplies and warm clothing in case you become stranded. If you'll be in remote territory, tell others your route and expected return date.


  • Try to detect frostbite early, when it’s most treatable. The first signs of frostbite include redness and a stinging, burning, throbbing or prickling sensation followed by numbness. If this occurs, head indoors immediately, if at all possible.
  • If you experience symptoms of frostbite while out in the backcountry, keep moving. Exercise can get the blood flowing and help you stay warm, but don't do it to the point of exhaustion.
  • Try to gradually bring feeling back into the body. Never rub frostbitten skin or submerge your hands or feet directly into hot water; use warm water or a warm washcloth instead. If you do not feel sensation returning to your body, or if the skin begins to turn gray, go to an emergency room or clinic immediately.





An Aero Methow Rescue Service Program


Hayley Riach