Fort Berthold Diabetes Program

Enjoy winter, safely

By Gwendolyn Davis, RN – Case Manager 

Before we know it, it will be time for outdoor winter activities such as ice fishing, skiing and snow tubing.  These activities are fun, but safety should always be addressed when planning for winter outings.   

Car Safety 

Even if the weather is nice out when you leave for your adventure, be sure to let someone know where you are headed and at what time you’re expected to arrive. That way, if you run into bad weather later in the day and are stranded, family or emergency responders will know where to look.  

It is a good idea to keep emergency supplies in your car in case you run into trouble. Some ideas for supplies that should be included are: blankets, matches, candles, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food such as granola bars, a tow rope, jumper cables, compass, extra cell phone charger and a bag of sand or kitty litter to spread for traction if you’re stuck in the snow. 


Medications should not be stored in places where they can be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as being left in a vehicle, because they may lose their full effectiveness before the printed expiration date.  It is important to remember to bring all needed medications when traveling. Writing out a checklist and packing a travel kit in advance for medications and supplies is good way to remember to bring all necessities.  If a Freestyle Libre continuous glucose sensor is being used, prolonged exposure under 50 degrees F can cause an error message on the reader when the sensor is scanned, but ability to scan should continue when the sensor has warmed up to a temperature above 50 degrees F. 

Complications related to extreme cold: 

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 95 degrees F, and in turn the body’s organs begin to slowly shut down.   If left untreated, the heart and respiratory systems eventually fail completely.  

Symptoms can include the following: 

o Shivering

o Slurred speech

o Clumsiness

o Weak pulse

o Lack of coordination

o Memory loss

o Dizziness

o Redness of the skin

o Loss of consciousness

Frost bite injury occurs due to freezing of the skin and at times, the underlying tissues.  There are three stages of frost bite: 

  • Frost nip – mild, warm skin with pain & tingling, no permanent damage 
  • Superficial frostbite – reddened skin that turns pale, small fluid filled blisters may appear 12-36 hours after rewarming of the skin
  • Deep (severe) frost bite – all layers of skin and underlying tissue are affected, skins turns white or bluish gray, loss of sensation of cold, large blisters erupt 24-48 hours after rewarming, skin turns black and hard as the tissues dies 

Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

  • At first, cold skin and a prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases

To make an appointment or for assistance with diabetes management/nutrition, call the Diabetes Program at 701-627-7931.

Mayo clinic. (2019). Frostbite. Retrieved from:
Mayo clinic. (2020). Hypothermia. Retrieved from: