Do Not Rub Any Cold Injury With Snow

Do not massage the affected area.

Do not rewarm with stove or fire: a burn injury may result. Loosen constricting clothing. Avoid tobacco products.

d) Treatment of Superficial or Deep frostbite. Any frostbite injury, regardless of severity, is treated the same - evacuate the casualty and re-warming in the rear. Unless the tactical situation prohibits evacuation or you are in a survival situation, no consideration should be given to re-warming frostbite in the field. The reason is something-called freeze - thaw - re-freeze injury.

• Freeze - Thaw - Re-freeze injury occurs when a frostbitten extremity is thawed out, then before it can heal (which takes weeks and maybe months) it freezes again. This has devastating effects and greatly worsens the initial injury.

• In an extreme emergency it is better to walk out on a frostbitten foot than to warm it up and then have it freeze again.

• Treat frozen extremities as fractures - carefully pad and splint.

• Treat frozen feet as litter cases.

• Prevent further freezing injury.

• Do not forget about hypothermia. Keep the victim warm and dry.

• Once in the rear, a frostbitten extremity is re-warmed in a water bath, with the temperature strictly maintained at 101°F - 108°F.


a. Definition. Sunburn of the cornea.

b. Causes of Snow Blindness. There are two reasons Marines in a winter mountainous environment are at increased risk for snow blindness.

• High altitude. Less ultraviolet (UTV) rays are filtered out, UV rays are what cause snow blindness (as well as sunburn). So at altitude, more UV rays are available to cause damage.

• Snow. The white color of snow reflects much more LTV rays off of the ground and back into your face.

c. Signs and Symptoms of Snow Blindness.

• Hot, sticky, or gritty sensation in the eyes, like sand in the eyes.

• Headache may be severe.

• Excessive tearing.

d. Prevention of Snow Blindness. Prevention is very simple. Always wear sunglasses, with UV protection. If sunglasses are not available, then field expedient sunglasses can be made from a strip of cardboard with horizontal slits, and charcoal can be applied under the eyes to cut down on reflection of the sun off the snow.

e. Treatment of Snow Blindness.

• Evacuation, when possible.

• Patch the eyes to prevent any more light reaching them.

• Wet compresses, if it is not too cold, may help relieve some of the discomfort.

• Healing normally takes two days for mild cases or up to a week for more severe cases.

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