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Frostbite a threat when temperatures drop

Kansas

Frostbite is a winter hazard most people associate with mountain climbing or Arctic excursions, but it can happen in Kansas, as well, said State of Kansas Climatologist Mary Knapp.

"The term 'frostbite' actually refers to frozen tissue, which can develop during any outdoor winter activity," said Knapp, who directs the Kansas Weather Data Library at Kansas State University. "Children are at greater risk, both because they lose body heat more quickly and because they do not notice the signs in the midst of winter fun."

Frostbite is characterized by white, waxy skin that is hard to the touch. It requires immediate medical attention, she said.

Frostnip is an early warning sign for frostbite. It usually affects areas exposed to the cold, plus extremities such as fingers and toes, Knapp said. Frostnip shows up as white, numb spots, and usually can be treated at home.

"The steps are to get indoors, remove wet clothing, and gently warm the affected area in warm--not hot--water until feeling is restored," she said. "Be careful about the water temperature, though. Numbed parts won't be able to detect water that is too hot, so can easily be burned."

More information about Kansas weather is available on the Kansas Weather Data Library page in K-State Research and Extension's website: www.oznet.ksu.edu/wdl. Audio reports of "Weather Wonders" are available on the Kansas Radio Network www.oznet.ksu.edu/radio/ (click on Weather Wonders and scroll).

1/12/09
1 Star WK\3-B

Date: 1/8/09



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