Watch Out For Frostbite As Temperatures Dip This Week
risk increases when temperatures fall below 5 degrees.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – As colder temperatures settle into the Sioux Empire, people are at greater risk for developing frostbite or even hypothermia. According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk really increases when temperatures fall below 5 degrees.
Dr. Nate Johnson says it’s not often that people come through Avera’s Emergency Room doors with frostbite or hypothermia.
“Fortunately, it’s not very common because most people that are acclimated to the plains or northern regions know how to keep warm, says Avera Emergency Room Dr. Nate Johnson.
When they do see cases, it could be a hunter, ice fishermen, or a stranded motorist who got out of their vehicle to walk for help.
“Also, in the area, we have homeless people that don’t have access to appropriate shelter that do have hypothermic episodes and events that we treat, says Johnson.”
The least severe case is frost nip.
Johnson says your skin becomes red or pale and you have pain or severe burning.
He says you’re at risk of losing an extremity when it starts to turn blue or black and you lose sensation.
“If someone is out in the elements and still has a ways to go before being able to be in a warm environment or seek medical care, it’s actually better to leave it cold until they know it’s not going to refreeze,” says Johnson.
Johnson says it’s a myth that you lose most of your heat through your head.
He says it’s most important to dress in layers to prevent cold air from hitting any part of the body.
“You can work outside in any temperature if you have the right gear and knowledge that you need to warm yourself when you start to experience those symptoms,” says Johnson.
In the most severe cases when hypothermia sets in, Johnson says you will start to shiver, have an altered mental status, and your heart rate will go from fast to slow.
He says many times people will go into a coma and they have to warm the body from the inside.
Those most at risk for developing hypothermia are children, older adults and those using drugs or alcohol.