What it's like to get frostbite

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. When temperatures drop this low, it’s not safe for you or your children to be outside for long periods of time.
Any exposed skin could get frostbitten, and the damage can be permanent.
We spoke with some people who have dealt with the pain of frostbite, and they made it sound very uncomfortable.
“It hurts. It burns,” said Melissa Kay.
She says years ago she made a simple mistake: She was out in the cold without a hat.
“I was just running with no hat on, which I think that was kind of stupid on my part,” she explained.
She says she got frostbite on her ear.
“If you pressed on it, it would hurt like a sunburn,” said Kay, “It’ll be really red, some of your skin will peel off.”
A frostbite can cause the skin to blister, like a burn from a flame. More serious cases can lead to damage to tendons, muscles, and nerves, and even blackening of the skin.
In the wintertime, it’s just one more danger firefighters have to look out for.
Springfield Fire Department Captain Jason Williams has a very vivid memory of a fire that happened almost exactly seven years ago.
“I was actually a driver, so I was out pumping the whole time,” he explained.
A cabinet business in Springfield burned down on a snowy January night.
“I was lucky enough not to get wet or sweaty,” said Williams, “But the temperatures were down in the teens with windchills below zero, and it took me probably two weeks to recover from that because I still had some shivers. That’s why I go to the thermal socks. Because I think that was my biggest problem, I didn’t have thermal socks on.”
Springfield firefighters say get inside as soon as you feel numbness or tingling in your hands or toes. Rescue Specialist Brian Smithson says it’s important to get into dry clothes. Or if you’re going to be out in the weather, you should bring an extra set of clothes to change into if you get wet.
Firefighter Jeff Butler said once you get out of the cold, “Heat your core back up because your fingers are hurting because the blood has left your extremities to go back to your core. So if you warm up your core, the rest of your body will warm up also.”
Firefighters say if you can avoid going outside in the bitter cold, just stay indoors where it’s safe and warm.
Poor blood circulation is one of the factors that can lead to frostbite. Experts say smokers are more likely to get frostbite because smoking interferes with blood circulation. Alcohol does the same.