Frostbite Warning

By: McKenzie Martin Email
By: McKenzie Martin Email

Frostbite in Colorado is something to be weary of all winter long, but especially when temperatures are as cold as they have been the last few days.

In weather this cold any exposed skin is at risk, but usually frostbite gets to the fingers and toes first and that’s something one man from Calhan knows all too well.

Two weeks ago Shawn Austin was in a Denver Hospital, recovering from severe frostbite to his hands and toes.

"It was dark and snow was everywhere, it was a white out and it was really really cold...the snow drifts were three feet deep," Shawn said.

He says when his jeep got stuck about a half mile from his house he decided to try and walk home. Problem was he didn't have any gloves and it was 20-below zero with no visibility. Shawn didn't make it far, before he was forced to call for help. He thought he was ok, then the next morning, he woke up with blisters on his hands.

"When you start having blistering which would be the equivalent of a second degree burn, when you see that its time to come in and get medical help," said Doctor David Ross at Penrose Hospital.

Dr. Ross says in the last week alone he's treated 3 cases of frostbite and with severe cases if you don't seek help, there could be permanent damage.

"Ice crystals actually form in the blood vessels in the fingers and toes or whatever part is involved, it causes damage," Ross said.

Damage that could result in the loss of a finger or toe; fortunately that wasn't the case for Shawn. He just hopes his story serves as a reminder of just how dangerous winter weather can be.

When out in the cold its important to recognize the early signs of frostbite which could include pain and numbness and it doesn't have to be below zero for frostbite to set in.


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