What are the Wilderness Medical Society recommendations for protection from the cold to prevent frostbite?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Bobak Zonnoor , MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

The following measures can be used to ensure protection from the cold:

  • Avoid environmental conditions that predispose to frostbite (ie, less than -15°C [5°F])
  • Protect skin from wind, cold, and moisture
  • Avoid perspiration (sweating) or wet extremities
  • Increase skin protection and insulation with layering of clothing and using mittens rather than gloves, including the use of electric or chemical hand/foot warmers
  • Avoid behaviors or situations (eg, drug/alcohol use, hypoxemia) that deter recognition of changing environmental conditions
  • Perform regular awareness checks (self, group) for impending frostbite signs and symptoms and recognizing superficial frostbite prior to it becoming more serious
  • Minimize the duration of exposure to cold temperatures

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