Frostbite and Hypothermia

If you are going to spend time outdoors in winter, it is a good idea to recognise the danger signs of frostbite and Hypothermia.


  • White or greyish-yellow skin area
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • Numbness

If you detect symptoms of frostbite, get out of the cold as soon as possible.

Avoid walking on frostbitten feet or toes—this increases the damage. Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body), or warm the affected area using body heat. Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage, and don’t use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily damaged or burned.


  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion, drowsiness
  • Confusion, memory loss, slurred speech
  • Fumbling hands

If you notice any of these signs, get medical attention immediately. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person by moving them out of the cold, removing any wet clothing, and concentrating on warming the centre of the body first (chest, neck, head, and groin). Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages.

Please refer to the Health Canada website on the effects of extreme cold on your health.