'Within minutes:' Experts warn of dangers of frigid temperatures
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With southeastern Wisconsin experiencing a stretch of single-digit temperatures and wind chills below zero, health experts warn about how rapidly certain dangers can develop in this type of weather.
That includes health risks like frostbite and hypothermia.
"Something like [frostbite] within minutes," Aubin Muszytowski of Bell Ambulances told CBS 58. "If you don't have your skin covered up like you should, properly, they can set in within minutes, and then you'll notice your fingers turn really red and that's the first sign of it."
Wind chills below zero can lead to frostbite in under 30 minutes or less depending on how severe the cold gets. That means any exposed skin is at risk of damage, highlighting the importance of gloves, scarves and hats to protect parts of the body that are not covered by jackets, pants or boots.
If your skin is exposed and feels cold or numb, you should run that part of the body under lukewarm water to get the feeling back to normal. Using hot water or direct heat like a stove may cause burns, which you may not feel, and therefore it may cause more damage.
People should also be cautious of another risk.
"The more severe injury would be hypothermia, which can lead to death," said Kim Lombard, the injury prevention coordinator at Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin.
Hypothermia happens when the body temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and the body loses heat faster than it can warm itself. The immediate treatment for this situation is to get the body to warm quickly.
"So that might be warm blankets on them, focusing on areas under the groin, under the armpits, that's where a lot of blood flow occurs, so focusing on warming those areas, the blood can flow to the rest of the extremities," Lombard said.
Experts also encourage several layers to keep warm, including doubling up on socks if necessary. Infants and senior citizens are also especially vulnerable to cold, so they encourage people to check on neighbors or loved ones who may need help.