Bitter cold prompts frostbite and hypothermia alerts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bitter cold prompts frostbite and hypothermia alerts

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Dozens of schools are closed or running late and travel is not recommended across much of northern Iowa as the state digs out from a blizzard followed by bitter cold.

Tuesday's bitter cold temperatures follow Monday's weather that brought 2-4 inches of fresh snow, which was whipped by winds gusting to 40 mph.

Temperatures plunged below zero early Tuesday. The winds had eased, but were still strong enough to create wind chills of almost 40 below zero.

At 5 a.m. on Tuesday, the temperature in Mason City dropped to 14 below, with a wind chill of 37 below.

St. Luke's Emergency Department in Cedar Rapids tells KWWL it has not seen any cases of hypothermia or frostbite so far on Tuesday -- however doctors are reminding Eastern Iowans of the dangers associated with cold weather health hazards such as hypothermia and frostbite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95ºF. Nearly 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia.

Victims of hypothermia are most often:

  • Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
  • Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
  • Children left unattended
  • Adults under the influence of alcohol
  • Mentally ill individuals
  • People who remain outdoors for long periods

Symptoms of hypothermia:

Adults:

  • Shivering/exhaustion
  • Confusion/fumbling hands
  • Memory loss/slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

Infants:

  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation.

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin-frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • Numbness

Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.

Another system is due to arrive in Iowa Tuesday night, bringing 2-5 inches of snow, more wind and another round of dangerous cold by Wednesday morning.

Online Producer:  JJ Murray

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