DETROIT (WWJ) – The chilly temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they can also pose a health risk.
With record low temperatures hitting much of the Midwest it’s important to realize when it’s time to get out of the cold.
WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites says cold weather causes the blood vessels to narrow, decreasing blood flow to your fingers and toes leading to frost-nip or frostbite.
Frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than ten minutes.
What is Frostbite?
Frostbite is a bodily injury caused by freezing that results in 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 according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Those most at risk include people with poor blood circulation and anyone who’s not dressed properly for extreme cold temperatures.
The CDC says that any of the following signs may indicate frostbite: a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy or if you experience numbness. [FIND OUT MORE]
Providence Hospital emergency doctor Rose Kuo says re-warming the affected area should cause circulation to return.
“If you are having any blisters, sort of like a second-degree burn pop up in the first 24 hours, you definitely need to see a physician about that,” said Kuo.
The National Weather Service saying if you notice someone with warning signs of hypothermia — get them to a warm place right away.
Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, can also occur when someone is exposed to bitter cold temps. [FIND OUT MORE]
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced says the CDC. “Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.”
The best advice is to stay indoors as much as possible. If you must go out, dress in layers — and if you have a pet remember that the bitter cold temperatures will affect them too! Limit their time outdoors to just taking care of ‘business.’
Around metro Detroit? The sun might shine a little this week, but forecasters say it won’t be enough to help raise the thermometer past the 15 degree mark. And once you factor in the wind chill, temperatures will actually feel more like 10 to 20 degrees below zero.