EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – With frigid temperatures in the weekend forecast, it’s important people stay safe if they’re planning on being outdoors.
Marshfield Medical Center Eau Claire nurse Lexie Schwartz said the best way to avoid frostbite is to stay inside; however, for those who must venture out, there are ways to reduce their risk.
“Trying to keep as much areas covered on your body and on your skin as you can is the number one thing I would say to do,” she said. “So make sure you’re wearing gloves, a hat, a mask over your face that’s going to help keep you warm, ski mask, whatever you need to do, have some good boots on.”ADVERTISEMENT
Schwartz also said people should wear plenty of layers, something Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Bill Lindeman said he does when he’s watching the highways on freezing days.
“We have multiple layers of clothes and extra jackets and even snow pants when it gets super cold because we could be out there for four or five, six hours at a time standing on a road if things get bad,” he said.
Schwartz said frostbite can occur within 10 minutes in sub-zero temperatures if someone isn’t wearing enough layers. She said it starts with the skin turning red. It will eventually turn a waxy blue or black.
“Frostbite is essentially freezing of that area,” Schwartz said. “And then when that happens and they’re not getting oxygen and blood flow, those tissues start to die, which is what you get when you see the black that starts to form with severe frostbite.”
She said if the skin turns red, go inside and warm up. If it turns waxy blue or black, seek medical care.
“Once it turns black, a lot of times those things need to be medically treated and/or amputated if they’re not able to get it back but usually black is a very bad sign,” Schwartz said.
She said frostbite is most common in extremities like the tip of the nose, fingers, toes and ears.
Lindeman said people planning on driving in the frigid weather should make sure they have extra food, water and blankets in their car. They should call immediately if they break down.