Frigid Temperatures, Cold Winds Increase Frostbite Concerns in Triad

Bitter Cold, Wind Increase Frostbite Concerns

TRIAD, NC -- The Piedmont-Triad has been below freezing every day so far in 2018 and with temperatures not expected to go up until next week, spending too much time outside can be a serious health risk.

After the sun goes down and as the winds pick up, experts say the wind chill can really increase your chances of getting frost bite.

When your fingers start to tingle and you start shivering, that's your body telling you to get inside before you get frost bite, according to Chris Wilson with Guilford County Emergency Services.

"It can affect any exposed skin whether it be your hands or your face or really any skin that is exposed to the cold air can start to have the on set of frost bite fairly quickly,” said Wilson.

According to data from the National Weather Service, when you factor in the current temperatures and wind chill in the Triad, you could start to see the signs and symptoms of frost bite within just 30 minutes of being outside.

Wilson says it starts with pain and discoloration on the parts of your skin that are exposed.

“The first and early stages is going to be where your hands get really cold,” said Wilson. “They may get numb and really red. If that continues on, you’re going to start to see them lose lots of circulation and turn blue and black. You can actually start to have blisters form.”

In severe cases, it can be much worse.

"The longer you stay and the more the frostbite affects the skin, it could even get to the point where you could even lose some fingers or toes or whatever maybe the areas," said Wilson.

The best way to avoid frost bite is to limit your time outdoors.

But for those who have to work outside, that's not an option.

Jason Cantley is an Equipment Operator with a construction crew that spent Thursday working in sub-freezing temperatures along Wendover Avenue.

Cantley says the conditions have been making it much harder for them to do their job.

“It is brutal on your bones. It is very good to keep every bit of your face and hands covered as much as possible due to this terrible wind. The wind is what gets you,” said Cantley. “It’s not necessarily the cold. It’s what happens when the wind is really beating your body down.”

Cantley says the key to surviving the bitter cold conditions is to stay hydrated and take a lot of breaks.

"If you stay out here all day, what will happen is when you go in, it will have your body and your face and skin hurting so bad it'll literally hurt to clean yourself up because you will burn and hurt so bad," said Cantley. 

The most common areas for frostbite are the fingers, toes, nose and ears.

Wilson says kids and the elderly and anyone with chronic medical conditions are at a greater risk.

If you suspect frostbite, get inside as soon as possible. Keep in mind damage may be further along than you think, so you'll need to go to the emergency room if it's severe.


 

© 2018 WFMY-TV


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