Protecting yourself from frostbite

With feels like temperatures dipping down to below zero, people are doing whatever they can to stay warm.

With feels like temperatures dipping down to below zero, people are doing whatever they can to stay warm.

"I'm wearing a coat and I have like long john tights under my pants and my shirt,” Champaign visitor Hailey Pendergrass said.

Experts said one thing you especially need to look out for is your skin. If exposed, these temperatures can cause frostnip or frostbite in a matter of minutes.

"It starts out with mild symptoms and problems,” Carle Arrow Ambulance Service paramedic Dale Grimm said. “Numbness, tingling, pain, that kind of thing. Then it can progress rather quickly where the tissue actually becomes damaged and it gets down deeper into the layers of skin. It can sometimes be similar to a burn, but the opposite because it's caused by cold exposure."

If you feel these things you should get out of the cold and try to warm up gradually. Don't put cold skin near a heat source, like a fire or car vent. If it doesn't feel better in about five minutes, Grimm says you should seek medical help.

"If the skin is red or like a waxy, yellow tint to it,” Grimm explains. “If it doesn't look normal, if it looks like there's been some damage done, then you need to seek some medical attention."

When it comes to gearing up, there are key areas you should always keep covered, including your hands, feet, face, and nose, as those are more susceptible to the cold according to experts.

There are also fabrics you should avoid.

"When you're out in cold weather like this, when you wear cotton next to your skin you'll actually end up being colder,” Champaign Surplus owner Dan Epstein said.

“So wool socks are better. A synthetic T-shirt, as opposed to a cotton T-shirt or a wool T-shirt, will definitely keep you warmer."

Sporting gear experts said you can help keep your internal temperature up by wearing base layers, which go under your clothes. Also, the material on the outer layer of your gear is key.

"Another thing to remember is wind,” Estpein said. “When the wind blows it can take a lot of that heat away that you're building up under your jacket. So you want to make sure you have something windproof as well."

Paramedics said those who work outside can be especially susceptible to frostbite. Their tolerance from the cold can make it more difficult for them to notice the warning signs of frostbite.

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