Frostbite is a really serious concern in Maine and New Brunswick when we get extremely cold conditions. It doesn’t take long for you to suffer the effects when exposed to the cold air. It can range to as little as 15 minutes under extreme lows and up to 30 minutes in sub zero weather.

There are four different stages of frostbite, according to the Maine Department of Transportation. 

The first stage is normal frostbite which is skin without any damage. You might experience this just going from your vehicle to your front door, or when going across the parking lot at work. It’s not a long time out in the cold.

The second stage is the more serious frostnip. You’ll know when you’ve experienced this because the skin gets irritated and red. It can be followed by some numbness. It does not lead to permanent damage and is treated with basic first aid.

The third stage is called superficial frostbite (there’s nothing superficial about it - it’s just the term). It’s possible for fluid-filled blisters to form within a day to 36 hours after the skin is rewarmed.

The fourth stage is deep frostbite. This comes with some serious health problems. Numbness can occur and joints and muscles might not work. Blisters can form after a day to 48 hours of rewarming. As the skin tissue dies, areas turn black and hard.

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The important thing is to try to avoid any of the stages. has some important tips to reduce the chance of frostbite:

  • Keep dry. If your clothes are wet in any way, you lose heat from your body fast.
  • Keep your feet dry by wearing insulated waterproof boots. You probably have seen something on TV where someone gets frostbite on their toes.
  • Cover up is key. Winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarves - whatever you got, wear it. You can lose half of your body heat if you don’t wear a hat.
  • Why is layering so important? The air trapped in between the layers works to insulate the body.  So pile on the sweets, hoodie and long sleeve (just don’t over do it so you sweat and get cold).
  • Of course, you need to focus on your family and the pets. Make a plan so the kids don’t have to stand outside waiting for the bus. Make sure the animals are in a safe, dry and warm place.
  • The homestead needs looking after too. Let the water drip just a little bit from your sink, shower and tub so it doesn’t freeze.

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