Frostbite is a real concern when people are outdoors during the wintertime for hunting or just camping. Perhaps it does not seem wise to get outdoors during cold time, facing subzero temperatures, but for many hunters, winter is not the best but the only chance to go out for their prizes.
On the other hand, there's something romantic about camping outdoors, separated from snow just by a tiny layer of fabric, warming everything with a fire, and looking at the snowflakes coming down during the night illuminated by the camping fire.
Whichever the reason, every winter dozens of people are outdoors facing extremely low temperatures, and despite how comfortable they are in the cold, frostbite is always a risk to keep in mind, so being aware of how to prevent it remains paramount for safety.
The first thing to know is that frostbite may hit from nowhere, which means we don't see it coming and we realize about frostbite, many times it's too late and there's a real risk of severe, irreversible injuries, especially on fingers and toes; so the best way to fight frostbite is being a step ahead and preventing it.
Next, you will find several tips to prevent frostbite, most of them are very simple but still very effective, so keep them in mind the next time you go out to the bushes during winter time.
1. Layer clothing
Perhaps it's something obvious but not everyone is aware of it. Clothing by layers allows different insulation levels, keeps moisture away from your body, and helps to trap warm air around you, creating a sort of "insulating air bubble" beneath clothes layers.
Basically, three layers are mandatory, a synthetic, thin, respirable layer near the skin, an insulation one like wool or fleece over the first one, and the third made of waterproof material.
This basic three layers format may be improved by adding, if necessary, extra layers of thing, insulating, synthetic material below the outer layer. More layers while coldest the temperature.
On the other hand, if you are hiking a lot, increasing your body heat, perhaps you will need to remove one or two layers, which will be required later when physical activity diminishes or external temperature drops, so be sure every layer is easy to handle and wear.
2. Protect your feet and toes thoroughly
While an extremity is farther from the body core, greater the risk of frostbite, thus toes are at highest risk than any other part of the body; moreover, due to tiredness and exhaustion, toes frostbite might be unnoticed or mistaken by just a regular pain due to a long walk.
Consequences may be tremendous, including toes amputation, then it's critical to keep your feet and toes safe and warm.
To do so it's necessary to wear at least two pairs of socks, the one closer to the skin must be of respirable and moisture-wicking fabric while the second should be an insulating material such as wool.
Extra socks may be uncomfortable, but if required you may add a third pair of think, synthetic insulation material socks.
Remember to keep your feet away from moisture and water all the time, otherwise, there's a real risk of ice formation inside your boots, increasing the chances of frostbite, so keep your feet dry all the time.
A good way to do it is using insulated, sealed, waterproof boots. That's the best choice to protect your feet and keep them warm (of course, combined with properly layered socks)
3. Don't forget your face
After toes, nose, and ears have the highest frostbite risk because of their exposition to cold air and wind, so protecting them is extremely important to avoid serious, disfiguring injuries.
Heavy wool hats with ear covers are a great choice to protect your ears and the sides of your face, while to keep your nose warm as well the air entering your airway, the use of a thick scar or facemask remains the best option.
Remember to uncover your face just the necessary to keep you hydrated or eat something, the longer your face is exposed to cold air, the highest the risk of frostbite.
4. Your hands, take care of them all the time
Probably working or hunting wearing insulating gloves is not the most comfortable task but it's mandatory to use gloves when the temperature drops beyond zero.
Perhaps you are tempted to remove them to perform small tasks, but that's not recommended, instead, you need to master the art of work, hunt, and overall use your hands using gloves.
If it's not possible, a double pair of gloves is highly recommended; an outer, insulating pair for the time you don't need to perform any delicate task and the inner, thinner glove in case you need to remove the outer one to perform a particular activity.
In case you need to proceed this way, remember to complete the task as soon as possible and cover your hands with the thicker gloves fast. More exposure implies a higher risk of frostbite, and in subzero conditions, a long exposure is just a few minutes at most.
5. Keep snow away from your body.
If snow reaches the inner layers of your boots or clothes it will low your temperature, afterward will melt adding extra, non-desired wet which later may get frozen, lowering your body temperature still more.
So, keeping snow outside your clothing is critical to avoid serious harm and, if not possible because any reason, evacuate it as soon as possible to prevent serious temperature drops and wet accumulation.
The same occurs with sweat. If your body temperature rises because of vigorous physical activity, sweat will accumulate inside your clothes and later that moisture will drop your temperature. In such cases, it's necessary to unzip your outer clothes from time to time for a while to allow moisture evacuation. A simple maneuver that keeps you safe and warm.
As you may see, the risk of frostbite is always there, and missing a tiny detail may be catastrophic, so get ready to face the cold and don't forget any step to enjoy outdoor activities even during wintertime!