Following the recent snap of freezing cold weather across the UK, Skills Training Group – a leader in first aid training courses for adults and businesses – is urging members of the public to learn how to spot and treat frostbite and hypothermia. Research shows that at present, just 1 in 20 adults would know how to provide first aid to someone suffering from a cold-weather related issue.
Frostbite is damage to skin and tissue caused by exposure to freezing cold temperatures. While it can affect any part of the body, the extremities – such as the toes, fingers, nose, ears, cheeks, and lips – are most likely to be affected.
While redness and pain are a first sign of frostbite, people affected are often unaware of frostbite as the frozen tissue becomes numb. Numbness, greyish-yellow skin patches and an unusually firm, ‘waxy’ feeling to the skin are other signs to look out for. In cases of severe frostbite, the affected tissue may die and cause life-threatening complications.
Mark McShane, Director & first aid training expert from Skills Training Group said, “Given the recent spate of cold temperatures, it’s concerning that only 1 in 20 adults know how to give first aid in these conditions. Ensuring to wrap up warm with a hat, gloves, scarf, coat, and several layers of loose-fitting clothing is extremely important when it comes to protecting ourselves from frostbite and other dangers brought in by freezing weather, such as hypothermia. If someone is suffering from frostbite, they will likely also be suffering from hypothermia.”
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35C°, as it loses heat faster than it can produce it. Older adults, people who spend a lot of time outdoors, people who drink in excess, drug users, and babies left in cold rooms are at particularly high risk of developing hypothermia.
Adults affected may shiver, become exhausted and confused; drowsiness and slurred speech are also common. In infants, bright, cold red skin, ‘floppiness’ and low energy are the main warning signs.
Mark McShane, adds, “If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, or both, immediately seek medical attention. As you wait for medical professionals, get them into a warm room, remove any wet clothing, and warm them under dry layers of blankets, clothing, or towels. Do not rub them to try and warm them faster, as this may cause harm; frostbite-affected body parts should be put in water that is warm, not hot, to the touch.
“While it may seem imperative to raise their temperature quickly, this is often counterproductive. If someone is showing symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, do not try to warm them up faster by placing by a radiator, heat lamp, stove, or fireplace; don’t use heating pads, hot water bottles, or electric blankets.
“Do not place them in hot baths and, while movies would have you believe it is a good idea, do not give them alcohol. A warm, non-alcoholic drink will do if they are able to drink. Do not leave them alone as you wait for help.”
To see all first aid courses offered by Skills Training Group, visit: www.skillstg.co.uk/category/first-aid-training-courses