Avoiding hypothermia, frostbite: When the chill can kill

Avoiding hypothermia, frostbite: When the chill can kill

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - During bitterly cold temperatures, signs of frostbite and hypothermia can set in within minutes.

Hypothermia begins when your body loses more heat than it can produce. According to the National Weather Service, symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia can set in in 30 minutes or less.

The first sign of hypothermia is shivering as the body tries to generate natural body heat. That can escalate to slurred speech, a weak pulse, and even loss of consciousness, experts said.

Someone with hypothermia usually isn't aware of his or her condition because the symptoms often begin gradually; the confusion associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness. Confusion can also lead to risk-taking behavior.

Frostbite occurs when the body takes extreme measures to protect vital organs by cutting circulation to extremities. Fingers, toes, the nose, and earlobes eventually freeze due to the lack of blood flow.

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Signs of frostbite include lack of feeling in the affected area and skin that appears waxy or is cold to the touch. The skin may also be discolored -- flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue.

For more information on hypothermia and frostbite, click or tap here.

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