Niles teen warns bad decision in subzero temps put fingers at risk

Abigail Moore, 16, said she was playing in the snow without gloves when a gust of wind brought on burning pain

Abigail Moore, Niles, frostbite fingers

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – A Niles teen is fighting frostbite after playing in the snow with friends without wearing gloves. Now she’s sharing the story of her mistake as a warning to others.

“I don’t want my fingers to get chopped off or anything,” Abigail Moore said.

The 16-year-old’s fingers have been bound in gauze since last Tuesday because of what she called a “stupid mistake.”

She was hanging outside with a friend in subzero temperatures — without gloves.

“She threw snow at me and stuff, and I wasn’t thinking and picked the snow up, too, and threw it at her,” Abby said.

Then a gust of wind blew over her and her friend as the snow began to melt in her hands. She clenched them in pain.

“It started burning really bad and I didn’t notice it at first until I lost complete feeling in both of my hands,” she said.

MORE: Frigid temperatures increase frostbite concerns

Petrified, Abby showed her red and swollen hands to her mom, Jennifer McKenney.

“I didn’t think nothing of it because I’ve heard on the news it’s 30 minutes, and I know she was only out there for less than 15 minutes,” Jennifer said.

After two days and no improvements, Abby and Jennifer made the trip to Urgent Care.

The verdict? Stage 1 frostbite on all ten fingers.

According to the Mayo Clinic, frostbite happens when the tissue in body parts such as your fingers, toes, nose, ears, or cheeks actually freeze. Skin that is exposed to cold, windy weather is more likely to be frostbitten, though it can also happen even when skin is covered by gloves or other clothing.

In very cold, windy weather, the Mayo Clinic says exposed skin can develop frostbite in a matter of minutes.

“It was really hard to believe that it happened in that amount of time,” Jennifer said.

Each morning, Abby slathers her fingers with burn cream and wraps them tight — something she says is an excruciating process. It’s one she fears may become permanent, wondering if she’ll ever play basketball again.

Abby has regained feeling in her thumbs but her doctors say if the rest of her fingers don’t follow suit or if they start to change color, that could mean nerve damage or worse — amputation.

“That really scared me so I’ve been watching it nonstop and thank goodness it hasn’t changed purple or black,” Jennifer said.

“I just hope no other kid has to go through the pain,” Abby said.

She’s hoping this is one lesson she won’t have to live with forever and that her experience serves as a cautionary tale.

“It’s completely a bad choice because you don’t want to end up like the way I am, with no feeling and stuff. It hurts.”

Frostbite is preventable. The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips to make sure you’re safe in the cold weather:

  • Limit time outside in cold, wet or windy weather
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves or try a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material, like polypropylene, under a pair of gloves or mittens
  • Wear socks and sock liners that fit well, wick moisture and provide insulation
  • Watch for early signs of frostbite such as red or pale skin, prickling and numbness
  • Plan to protect yourself in case you get stranded by having emergency supplies and warm clothing on hand
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you plan on going outdoors because it causes your body to lose heat faster

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