How to prevent frostbite in the Alps

Whether you are an avid skier or just a hiker looking to climb the Alps, how to prevent frostbit in the Alps is something you should know and consider before your endeavor.

Frostbite is an injury to the body tissues that is caused by exposure to extreme cold conditions. Frostbite typically will affect the extremities, like the nose, fingers and toes, firstly and the most seriously. Frostbite can be life threatening if precautions are not taken to ensure that one’s self is protected, and that the first signs of frostbite are treated immediately to prohibit long term damage to tissue.

The first thing any person planning an adventure in the Alps should know are the first signs of frostbite. The first stage of frostbite includes the skin turning red and a cold, tingly or even numb feeling. The second stage of frostbite includes the reddening of the skin and a burning sensation or prickly feeling in the affected area. The area may turn white or ashen, and a person may suffer from loss of use or severe numbness in the area. The final stage of frostbite can include blistering, gray or blackening of the skin, and loss of function in joints and muscles.

It is important to know how to prevent frostbite in the Alps before beginning your journey. In order to do this effectively, one must be informed and prepared.

Prevent frostbite in the Alps

In order to prevent frostbite in the Alps, a person must work to avoid exposure to cold temperature for prolonged periods of time. Here are some of the best ways to prevent frostbite:

Clothing Wear clothing in layers, and make sure your clothing isn't too tight around any areas of the body as the air between your skin and clothes helps keep you insulated. The inner layers should be thermal underwear to wick away moisture from the body and hold in body heat. The outer layers should be wind and water-proof, like a puffer jacket and ski pants, to keep you dry and warm and safe from the elements.

Pay Attention To Your Head, Feet, & Hands Wear good quality merino wool socks. Merino socks, like merino thermals, wick away moisture from your body and keep your body heat in. Wear boots with adequate insulation that are waterproof and cover the ankles. Make certain they are not too tight, as this will effect your circulation. Protect your ears and head with a heavy wool or fleece hat, and cover your face with a scarf or face mask so you are breathing in warm air. A large percentage of body heat is lost through your head so it's vital to keep this part of your body well protected. Gloves are an item you don't want to skimp on. Having quality gloves that keep your hands dry and warm will go a long way to helping stave off frostbite.

Hydrate You should maintain adequate fluid levels throughout your time outdoors (at least 3 litres per day) Drinking warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine free beverages is best. Even if you are not feeling thirsty, drink often to stay hydrated.

Keep Dry Avoid becoming wet and change out of wet clothes promptly. 90 percent of the insulation qualities of your clothes is lost when they become wet. This is why it's important to have clothing with high waterproof and breathability ratings.

Diet Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep the body strong and ready for the elements. This is one of the best defenses you have, should you become exposed to the conditions for long periods of time. Make sure you've had an adequate breakfast before hitting the Alps.

Know The Symptoms & What To Do Know the symptoms of frostbite and keep alert to them. At the first sign of frostbite, head indoors immediately or to a warm place to rest, change into dry clothes, and treat any symptoms. NEVER rub frostbitten skin or submerge hands or feet into hot water - this can cause additional damage. Instead, try to gradually bring your body temperature up and bring feeling back to your affected areas. Use a warm washcloth or warm water on the affected areas. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if the feeling does not return or the skin begins to turn gray.

Frostbite is a real concern when hiking or skiing in the Alps. Dressing for the conditions and knowing how to prevent frostbite in the Alps is the most important step to ensuring that a fun day in the Alps does not end badly.

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