Many people use the cold winter months to participate in their favorite indoor activities. There is plenty to do outside too. Skiing, sledding and building snowmen are favorite outdoor recreational activities. Some people work outdoors, making venturing out into the cold a necessity.

One of the biggest risks when you’re outside in freezing weather is frostbite. Minor cases are a nuisance. Worse cases could result in the loss of extremities. Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of frostbite.

* Dress Appropriately – It’s a no-brainer that you should dress warmly when going out during the winter. Did you know that dressing in multiple layers is better than wearing one really warm layer of clothing? It is also important to wear clothing that is not too tight. Tight clothing decreases circulation and counteracts the body’s natural heat conservation methods.

* Wear a Hat and Gloves – You lose more heat through your head than any other part of the body, so keeping it covered will keep you warmer overall. Wearing gloves will cover your fingers, one of the areas most susceptible to frostbite.

* Shed Layers If Necessary – If you start to sweat, you’ll need to remove a layer. Sweating will cool your body down and if your body cools down it will decrease circulation to the extremities. That can set the process of frostbite into motion.

* Eat Well and Drink Warm Liquids – Eating a nutritious and filling meal before heading out will keep you warmer. The digestion process will generate warmth from the inside, and a good meal will give you more energy to keep active. Warm liquids are a good way to warm up when you start to feel chilly.

* Go Inside Periodically – When it’s really cold out, it’s a good idea to go in every once in a while and warm back up. Your body will withstand the cold better and the periods of rest will keep you from getting too tired.

* Take Extra Clothes – It is essential to change clothes if the ones you are wearing get wet or sweaty. If you’re not close to home, take some extra clothes with you in case you need them. Socks are especially important.

* Keep Moving – Staying active when outdoors in cold weather is one of the best ways to keep warm and avoid frostbite. It is important, however, not to wear yourself out. Fatigue will reduce your body’s natural ability to stay warm, so you’ll need to pace yourself.

* Protect Previously Frostbitten Areas – Areas that have been frostbitten before are more likely to get frostbitten again. It’s important to pay special attention to them. Make sure they stay as warm as possible and check them frequently for signs of new frostbite.

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