The wallop of snow reminded Minnesotans how to drive amid winter's fury, but the deep freeze that set in is calling up a new reminder -- how to dress to avoid the dangerous risk of frostbite.
Many Minnesotans are active people who are proud of how they handle the cold weather, and it takes much more than a cold snap to keep them inside; however, when temperatures drop to the single digits, it doesn't take long for frostbite to set in.
"It's just the wind," said Joel Quie. "That's the ultimate one. I'll go out if it's 20 or 10 degrees, but then you ad the wind on top of it and it's just hard to get the breath and the warmth."
Doctors say wind chill is a huge factor when it comes to frostbite. In sub-zero temperatures, skin -- even muscles -- can freeze as the body's blood rushes to protect vital organs.
"As you get colder, the periphery will then shut down permanently as ice crystals start to form," Anne Lambert, M.D., explained. "Once the ice crystals form, you have frostbite."
According to Lambert, it's important to limit outdoor exposure and dress for safety, not style. Anyone who thinks they may have a touch of frostbite is urged to rewarm the area as soon as possible and see a doctor.
"The faster you warm it, the better, but you don't want to put hot water on it as well because you can't feel it. So, you want to be careful about the temperature," she recommended.
Each year, HCMC admits about two dozen patients for frostbite. The early warning signs are tingling and burning followed by numbness. Hands, feet, ears and noses are the most vulnerable areas.
To guard against frostbite, it's important to dress in layers and ensure that vital areas are covered -- including hands, necks and faces. After all, it's always possible to strip away clothes if it's too warm.
Keeping skin dry and covered is as crucial as avoiding prolonged exposure, whether working out or shoveling snow.
KDFW FOX 4
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