Environmental Emergencies – Cold Exposure

This portion of the First Aid program offers a detailed explanation of how to handle environmental emergencies including exposure to both “Heat” and “Cold“. To explain how we can help, we must first refer back to a previous post about “Burns”, as we are talking about a “Thermal Dynamic Energy” your body can take damage from to much exposure to both heat and cold, it depends on the amount you are exposed to that will detail the severity of the injury. To quote a slogan from our post about Burns, if “Hot is Fast, then Cold must be Slow“. Once again this will help us distinguish the difference in the injuries and potential treatments we can use to help the patient.

Just remember that Thermal energy in either direction Hot or Cold will result in levels of severity and symptoms that are very similar but on opposite ends of the spectrum “Fire / Ice“, Lets focus on Cold exposure for this article.

As your flesh cools down to levels where it can sustain damage, your tissue will naturally react as many other substances do when encountering a “Cold energy Source“. Your flesh will freeze and the “cold” energy your flesh is being exposed to will naturally react, as you are roughly 60%-65% water, your tissue will naturally expand and crystallize as it freezes. we have heard the saying “Hot is Fast & Cold is Slow.” as it takes “Time” for your tissue to freeze, it will also take “Time for it to thaw. once you know this you can see that “to much heat” can actually cause damage rather than helping. The best way to describe this is to picture an “Ice Cube” that you just made in an ice cube tray, now in your mind take that ice cube from the tray and drop it in a hot cup of soup because the soup is too hot. What does the ice cube do? It cracks, snaps, pops and breaks apart, now…. picture someone’s frozen fingers, if you were to run their frozen fingers under hot water to warm it up what would happen? “Hot is Fast so Cold MUST be slow” once you can see the difference the treatments will be clear.

“Frost Nip”