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As the temperature drops, stay safe from frostbite


HAWARDEN, IA (KTIV) - Frigid temperatures are returning to Siouxland Wednesday and Thursday.

With these cold temperatures combined with windy weather, wind chills could be as low as 45 degrees below zero.

These dangerous wind chills cause the skin to become vulnerable to frostbite.

"In real mild cases, you might see a grey-ish or white-ish discoloration in your skin. It will feel kind of waxy. As it starts to warm up, it can develop blisters. And if it has been severely damaged, a couple of days later it might even turn black, depending on how long you are out in the cold." said Heather Kreber, a physician assistant with Hawarden Regional Healthcare.

Kreber said the best way to avoid frostbite is to stay inside, but if that is not possible, make sure you are bundling up and not exposing skin to the air.

"Frostbite can happen in as quick as about 30 minutes, when the wind chill, the temperature with the wind chill, gets as cold as about 15 or 16 degrees below. But if it gets even colder than that it can happen in as quickly as 10 minutes," said Kreber.

With the expected wind chills for Siouxland, the National Weather Service says they could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

And if you do find yourself exposed, be prepared.

"Try to warm yourself back up. If you have anything on that's wet, especially socks, gloves, you need to get those off. With warming up, you want to be really gentle with it. You don't want to rush it, you don't want to use hot water, you don't want to be by a fire or stove. Because if you have numbness in your fingers or toes, you're not really gonna know how hot it is." said Kreber.

With frostbite potential, it is important to be paying attention to your forecast so you can avoid or prepare for these dangerous wind chills.

For the latest Storm Team 4 weather forecasts, click here.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following tips to prevent frostbite.

  • Limit time you're outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather.
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing.
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears.
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves.
  • Wear socks and sock liners that fit well.
  • Don't drink alcohol if you plan to be outdoors in cold weather.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and stay hydrated.
  • Keep moving to get the blood flowing, but don't do it to the point of exhaustion.

For more on frostbite and how to prevent it, visit the Mayo Clinic's website.

Leslie London

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