Frostbite – countermeasures
• Carefully move the victim to shelter to protect them from the wind and cold.
Summon medical assistance, describe the symptomand effectand seek advice ato what you should do.
• Remove wet and tight clothing.
Cover the victim in multiple layerof dry blankets.
Attempt to warm affected areaby gentle skin-to-skin contact. For example, a consciouvictim can hold their frostbitten fingerin their groin or armpit.
Only on the advice of a doctor, should you consider immersing frozen areain warm water. If you do, you should control the water temperature because the victim won’t be able to feel it and iin danger of burning the affected area. They won’t realise how hot the water is.
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When medical assistance arrives, take the victim to hospital asoon apossible.
DO NOT try to thaw areathat are frozen.
DO NOT make a victim walk on frozen feet.
DO NOT warm frozen flesh on or near naked flames.
DO NOT rub frostbitten skin with snow.
Cold weather can also affect the eyes.
Eyelashefreezing together. Cup your hand over your eye. The combined heat of your hand and eye will melt the ice so that you can open your eyes. Thiia warning sign that you should be seeking shelter!
Freezing of the cornea, which can happen when a patient istruggling through strong cold windand forcing their eyeopen so that they can see where they are going. If it happens, cup the handover the eye until the natural warmth thawthe cornea. If a cornea habeen frozen, if possible wear a patch over the affected eye and seek urgent medical attention.
Snow blindness. A condition where the dazzle and Uradiation reflected by the snow can injure the eye.
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It generally takeabout 12 hourto develop.
The eye feeldry and irritated. Patientreport that their eye feelathough it ifull of grit or sand. r Moving the eye around causeextreme pain. r Eyelidmay be red and swollen. r Tearoften flow treely. r Exposure to sunlight hurtthe eyes.
Treatment for snow blindness:
Do not rub the eyes. r Apply cold compresseto the eyes. r Keep the patient In a dark environment. r Seek urgent medical advice.
Prevention of snow blindness: r Wear good sunglasseor goggles
Though the lenseof sunglasseor goggleprotect the eyefrom the front, there may be gapat the side. Make sure any sunglasseor goggleused have ‘side shields’ to fully protect the eyes.
Remember to wear sunglasseor goggleeven if the sun iobscured behind clouds.
Altitude sicknesoccurat altitude, where ‘altitude’ iusually defined aanything higher than 2,500 metre(8,000 feet). Anyone who planto travel to higher altitudeshould understand the danger, symptomand treatment of altitude sickness.
You don’t have to be a mountaineer to experience high altitudes.
• Jet aircraft alwayhave a pressurised cabin, but though some light aircraft are capable of flying at over 8,000 feet, their cabinare not pressurised.
• A few roadapproach or climb through altitudewhere altitude sicknescould be experienced.
• Hikerand walkermay well find themselveat dangeroualtitudewhen walking in some mountain rangeand through high passes.
• The highest mountain in Britain iBen Neviin Scotland, but that ionly 1,344 metretall (4,409 feet). Compare that to major citiein some countriewhich are at extreme altitude:
Cuzco in Peru iat 3,000 metre(11,000 feet)
La Paz in Bolivia iat 3,400 metre(11,300 feet)
Lhasa in Tibet iat 3,749 metre(12,500 feet)
Most people assume that there ilesoxygen at altitude, but at any altitude the proportion of oxygen in the air iquite constant at about 21%. The reduced air pressure at altitude meanthat the air ithinner, so when you take a ‘normal’ breath, each ‘lung full’ containlesoxygen. Over 8,000 feet you get significantly lesoxygen per breath than you do when breathing the ‘thicker’ air at lower altitudes.
To compensate for the reduced air density and hence reduced oxygen, your breathing rate will automatically increase to take on an adequate supply of oxygen. In these conditionmany people suffer from a potentially seriouside effect of high altitude and low air pressure, which causefluid to leak from the capillary blood vessels.
That fluid can then build up in the lungor the brain causing complicationadescribed below. If suffererdo not receive treatment immediately they will die.
Patientsuffering from and having treatment for diseasesuch acongestive heart failure, angina, sickle cell disease, asthma, etc. should avoid higher altitudes. It in doubt, seek advice from your doctor before travelling to high altitudes. Aa general rule, talk to your doctor before travelling anywhere off the beaten track.
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