Temperatures Increase Risk for Frostbite

Call it cold, freezing or frigid. Temperatures outside are extremely dangerous. The weather is on the minds of many tonight, and from what I learned today, these cold temps, are nothing to mess with. You've heard it once; you've heard it a 1,000 times. Frostbite occurs when you've exposed the skin to extreme cold for too long. But here in North Dakota, too long is actually just a matter of moments.

(Dr. Ben Roller, St. Alexius ER and Trauma):  "The skin becomes blanched or whitish. Or it becomes numb, like on your cheeks, they can become numb. As a consequence, once you come back into the house then it begins to really sting and burn as it's thawing out.”

(Charter):  And if the skin is exposed too long, crystals can form beneath the tissue and blisters show up.

(Dr. Roller):  "And so, over the next 24-36 hours, the patient will develop a blister. Those are the types of patients that should be evaluated, because there's a potential for infection.”

(Charter):  Now, ER doctors say they haven't had any cases of frostbite in their ER yet this year. Despite this the streets and sidewalks are so icy, the amount of injuries due to falls increased.

(Dr. Roller):  "We've seen tremendous amounts of people who have fallen," says Roller. "And when they fall, they break their wrists; they break their shoulders, hips as well as ankles and lower legs."

(Charter):  So, whether you haven't layered up enough, or you take a step in the wrong place, these winter temps can pose a threat to anyone.
Doctors say frostbite can occur on bare skin in less than five minutes.

Mark Charter, Reporting
KFYR TV (NBC)