Eskenazi Health Encourages Safety During Frigid Temperatures

Indianapolis, Jan. 19, 2022– With a blast of brutally cold winter air forecast to roll through Central Indiana this week, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health wants everyone to take the proper precautions to avoid frostbite, hyperthermia and additional cold weather injuries, and also be well aware of the dangers associated with improper use of space heaters.

Dangerous cold weather injuries are the result of individuals going outside without the proper protection most commonly on their exposed face, fingers, toes and ears. The horrific pain of frostbite happens when extreme cold causes the exposed top layer of skin and some of the tissues underneath to freeze. Frostbite may cause tissue death or loss, and the most severe frostbite cases may require amputation. However, with the proper care and attention, in many cases frostbite damage can recover.

“With frigid temperatures in the teens on the way to our area, it’s imperative that everyone make smart decisions in avoiding exposure to these dangerous conditions and the injuries that may result from cold weather carelessness,” said Brett Hartman, D. O., medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health. “Each year we see way too many frostbite injuries that in most cases can be avoided and we suggest you stay inside as much as possible for now, or bundle up well if you need to go outside for any extended time.”

Dr. Hartman warns that frostbite first appears when your skin becomes very cold and red, then numb, hard and pale. Additional symptoms include a tingling sensation, followed by numbness on the affected area. Frostbite will make skin hard, pale and cold, and you’ll lose feeling in those areas. In more severe frostbite cases, the skin becomes white and numb and may also have blisters, and blackened or dead tissue may result.

If you need to go outside during extreme cold weather, the best advice is to wear numerous layers of appropriate protective clothing that fit loosely to trap air and act as an insulator. Wear undergarments that will keep moisture away from your skin, with waterproof and windproof outer garments to protect you from wind, rain and snow. It’s always best to wear a ski cap or hood that fully covers your ears, and instead of wearing gloves we recommend wearing mittens instead that will keep your hands warmer.

If you have reason to believe that you may have contracted frostbite, Eskenazi Health physicians suggest refraining from rubbing or massaging the affected area, which may cause further damage to the skin. Move to a warm area, remove all wet clothing and apply dry, sterile dressings to the frostbitten skin. If the symptoms are severe and normal color and feeling does not return to the area, contact a health care professional immediately.

Space Heater Safety

When main heating systems are inadequate, many individuals utilize small space heaters to increase the temperature of rooms, and the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health urges caution in regards to using those devices.

According to the latest U.S. Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment report from the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Most home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters.

If you decide to use a space heater, Eskenazi Health recommends that you study closely and adhere to the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions. Always keep a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters, have a qualified professional install your stationary space heating equipment, remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed and always use the correct fuel for your gas-run space heater specified by the manufacturer.
Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States. For more information on burn prevention, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center’s burn prevention hotline at 1.866.339.BURN.


For more than 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Lifestyle Health & Wellness Center, Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. In partnership with the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health conducts groundbreaking work that informs health information technology around the globe. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In 2013, the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital opened, providing a new modern and efficient facility and becoming Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus. Eskenazi Health has been named one of Becker’s Hospital Review’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” for the past four consecutive years.

CONTACT: Tom Surber
Cell: 317.402.9327

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