Preventing frostbite & hypothermia in extreme cold - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Preventing frostbite & hypothermia in extreme cold

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- The temperatures continue to plummet following the weekend snow storm.  Wind chills Sunday and Monday could be dangerously cold.  And if you're outdoors, beware that frostbite and hypothermia can set in quicker than you may think.

Strong winds kept flags flapping and snow whipping across the roads Sunday.  And with the extreme cold comes some serious health concerns, especially if you're not bundled up.

"It can happen very rapidly.  If someone's out and about and they go out to get their mail and are just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, they might slip and fall and break a hip, and they can't get back in the house for a period of time.  Within 30-45 minutes, it can cause some serious problems in this type of weather," said Dr. Todd Lawrence with Covenant Medical Center.

So if you absolutely have to be outdoors in the cold, you'd better cover up.  Doctors say it's important to take some key factors into consideration when you bundle up, particularly your head.  It's possible to lose 30 percent of your body heat from the neck up.  So being sure to cover up your neck, ears, and head are important to keep you warm. 

Not wearing enough warm clothing is a leading cause of body temperature drops that lead to hypothermia and frostbite.  Even if you are dressed warmly, too much time outdoors in the extreme cold can be problematic.  And there are some red flags to look out for.

"If your fingers or parts of your body are starting to really hurt, they're feeling numb and tingly, that's and issue and a sign you need to get in where it's warm.  Sometimes you can get discoloration of your extremities.  Just run it under mildly warm water and getting in where it's warm will help that," said Dr. Lawrence.

And a key to avoiding those symptoms is not to overdo it.  Take indoor breaks when needed to prevent wintry weather from taking its toll.

If you have persistent pain or discoloration of your fingers or toes even after warming up a bit, you should seek medical attention.  Doctors say its also important to avoid alcohol in the extreme temperatures if you're going to be outside since it can make your body temperature drop even more rapidly.

There have also may many reports of slips and falls causing injury.  Experts advise you to wear boots with good traction to avoid those kinds of injuries.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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