'Layer up and avoid getting wet:' Doctors say extreme cold is dangerous and deadly

NOW: ’Layer up and avoid getting wet:’ Doctors say extreme cold is dangerous and deadly

MILWAUKEE (CBS58)--The extremely cold weather is sticking around for the rest of the week. Doctors say it’s no joke and if you have to go outside, dress appropriately.

“Layer up and avoid getting wet," Dr. Apple Bodemer said. She a UW-Health dermatologist.

Shoveling snow or doing other outdoor activities can cause you to sweat. That's what doctors say you need to watch our for while outside.

“You get very sweaty and you don’t have a plan to get indoors to remove those wet clothes you increase your risk for hypothermia, Dr. Jeff Pothof said. He is a Chief Quality Officer with UW-Health.

If you’re outside too long, your ears, toes and fingers may start to feel numb.

“When the temperature is so cold and you start to feel these things, that clock is really short at that point," Dr. Pothoff said.

Dr. Bodemer  says frostbite can be damaging to the skin.

“I see people with the chronic long-term frostbite which can involve mild changes to the skin. A lot of that sometimes recover but sometimes in severe cases of frostbite there can be permanent damage to the areas," Dr. Bodemer.

However, there are some people who are required to work outside for longer periods of time.

“Cold poses a definite challenge, definitely overwhelming at times but we pull through," Andrew Vossekuil said. He is a Battalion Chief of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

He says they understand the dangers of fighting fires in the cold.

“Some of the things we do to stay warm, we have extra sets of gear in the fire house, each member has a second set of gear to change into when we’re wet from a fire.” 

Vossekuil tells CBS 58 his firefighters take breaks.

“They will go back to their engine truck and change out their bottles, they’ll maybe get something to drink and change their shirt if they have to.

For those working from home especially due to the pandemic, doctors say stay there if you can.

If you know someone who may be in need of shelter, please call 2-1-1.

Someone will be sent out to check on that person.

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