Extreme cold brings increased risked of hypothermia and frostbite

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The extreme cold temperatures Kansas City has been experiencing could cause serious health issues if you do not dress properly when heading outside.

A local paramedic warns that two of the major health risks associated with cold weather are frostbite and hypothermia.

Cat Edison says if you suspect that you or someone you know has hypothermia or frostbite, the first thing to do is get out of the cold.

Once you are out of the cold, you should begin checking for the following signs of frostbite, then follow the steps for first-aid care.

Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

•At first, cold skin and a prickling feeling
•Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
•Hard or waxy-looking skin
•Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
•Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases

First-aid care:

1.Check for hypothermia
2.Protect your skin from further exposure
3.Get out of the cold
4.Gently rewarm frostbitten area
5.If there's any chance the affected areas will freeze again, don't thaw them
6.Take pain medicine
7.Don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible
8.Know what to expect as skin thaws

Unless absolutely necessary, the person should not walk on frostbitten toes or feet. Do not rewarm the skin until you can keep it warm. Warming and then re-exposing the frostbitten area to cold air can cause worse damage. Gently warm the area in warm water (not hot) or with wet heat until the skin appears red and warm.

Frostbite and hypothermia are both serious and could turn deadly if left untreated.

"Making sure that they're dressed appropriately when they have to go outside and have to be in the colder temperatures," she says. "Making sure they wear layers trying to stay dry, especially with the moisture we've been having lately," Edison told Fox 4 when asked how people can prevent frostbite or hypothermia.

Click here for more on how to spot, treat and prevent frostbite.