CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sports Blog

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Ward, Hayden
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Frostnip & Frostbite Prevention for Outdoor Winter Sports

The warning signs of frostbite

Partaking in outdoor winter sports is thrilling. Aside from the chill in the air, the adrenaline of participating in a sport or adventure is enough to forget about the elements of its nature. You’ve probably experienced your skin feeling frozen even though you’re moving around and producing body heat. While it can be hard to spot the difference between being cold and something more serious, it’s a risk any winter-operating adventure sport business faces.

Those exposed to extremely cold conditions have a higher chance of serious health problems, including hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and muscle injuries. In cold climates, everyone is susceptible to frostbite, but taking a few simple precautions can help keep your team and guests safe when participating in a winter sport.

In What Type of Weather Does Frostbite Occur?

Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, usually accompanied by a low wind chill factor or brief exposure to excessively frigid or wet conditions. Because most people actively engaged in the sport will be warm from activity, they won’t realize how cold it is.

Frostnip & Frostbite Symptoms

Outdoor enthusiasts typically experience frostnip more frequently than frostbite and are caught off guard by it. Frostnip can happen at 32°C and is a warning sign that frostbite can occur if you do not warm up. Frost-nipped skin is tender, pink and shiny and may last for the remainder of the day. It shouldn’t blister or leave permanent damage.

Symptoms of frostbite may include partial or complete numbness, discoloration of the skin and burning and/or tingling sensations. Frostbite can also blister and turn red. If left untreated, frostbitten skin gradually darkens after a few hours. Skin destroyed by frostbite is completely black and looks loose and flayed, as if it was burnt.

Frostnip & Frostbite Prevention

To reduce the risk of frostbite among your employees and guests, it’s important to stress the importance of protecting hands, feet, nose and ears. Remind your team and guests to bundle up in warm, layered and loose-fitting clothing when heading out into winter’s worst weather. Suggest they take heat packs to keep their hands and feet warm throughout the day.

It’s important to note that many people suffering from the warning signs of frostbite don’t notice because the tissue is numb. At the first sign of redness or pain in your skin, which may indicate that frostbite or frostnip is developing, get out of the cold. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages as it may prevent the person from realizing that their body is becoming too cold. Also, cigarettes can constrict blood vessels and cut off blood flow, increasing the risk of frostbite.

How to Treat Frostbite

Move to a warm area and remove any wet clothing as soon as possible. Do not rub or massage the skin or break any blisters, and do not apply direct heat from heating pads, radiators or fires. Instead, place the affected area in warm — not hot — water until the skin is soft and sensation has returned. If no water is nearby, cup your hands around the affected area and blow warm air onto it. Next, wrap the area in clean dressings and seek medical help.

If it’s unlikely that the affected area can be kept thawed before seeking medical attention, do not take steps to treat it; re-exposure to warmth can cause more extensive and severe damage.

Chillingly Good Insurance

With winter weather, it can be hard to forecast what could happen with regard to the safety and health of staff and clients. Bundle up with coverage that will help guide you through unforeseen losses and slippery slopes. For additional safety guidance and insurance solutions for your business,  request a free CBIZ Adventure Sport Insurance quote  today.

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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