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Non-Freezing Cold-Induced Injuries

Non-freezing cold-induced injuries are much more likely to occur than frostbite for the survivalist. He or she will likely be more prepared to prevent frostbite, but are likely to be exposed for prolonged periods to cold weather, either when traveling to safety, scavenging or hunting. This may lead to NFCI (Non-freezing cold injury). These injuries typically occur at temperatures just above or around freezing which leads to tissue damage to the exposed areas, but does not involve tissue freezing; aka frostbite. Most often this occurs on the feet due to constrictive footwear, wetness and prolonged cold exposure. Symptoms include pain, numbness, redness and tingling.

Prevention can typically be had by carrying a change of socks, and switching them out at least 3 times daily to prevent moisture buildup, which leads to increased coldness and can further cause damage. Also making sure that the footwear is non-constrictive as this will impede blood flow increasing the chance of cold injury.

Treatment is best done by raising core temperature to allow warm blood in circulation to the affected areas, while keeping the extremities cool either with a fan or air drying. Rapid rewarming increases oxygen demand and the tissue will respond negatively, become more swollen and painful and may further damage tissue. Cooling also improves pain and edema in the extremity.

Check out our our Winter Weather Prepping episode for more info on this!

Thanks for reading. Catch our episodes every other week for more medical tips to keep you and your group surviving.

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