Well it's the last day of January and it is COLD COLD COLD! Midwesterners trudged ahead Thursday into a familiar, grim reality: temperatures well below zero, schools and businesses closed, stern warnings to wear extra layers or, better yet, just stay indoors. The polar vortex that arrived earlier ... Read Full Post
Well it's the last day of January and it is COLD COLD COLD!
Midwesterners trudged ahead Thursday into a familiar, grim reality: temperatures well below zero, schools and businesses closed, stern warnings to wear extra layers or, better yet, just stay indoors.
The polar vortex that arrived earlier this week has for days disrupted life across an entire region. Deaths and injuries were reported. Decades-old records fell. And, for one more day, even stepping outside remained a painful, risky experience.
At least eight deaths have been connected to the Midwest’s dangerously cold weather system, according to The Associated Press, including that of a University of Iowa student who was found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn on Wednesday.
The sustained cold taxed energy systems across the Midwest, leading to some power failures and urgent calls to customers to reduce the heat in their homes.
• Many schools, businesses and restaurants remained shuttered on Thursday, though some offices were reopening and many more were expected to reopen Friday.
• By midday on Thursday, airlines had already canceled more than 2,200 flights in the United States, according to FlightAware. On Wednesday, cancellations topped 2,700.
One of the main culprits of these frigid temps is frostbite! It can happen in 5 minutes or less with the weather that we have had at 50 below with wind chill.
In such extreme cold, exposed skin can develop frostbite in as little as five minutes, said George T. Chiampas, an emergency medicine doctor and professor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
The body’s first reaction to extreme cold is to restrict blood and oxygen flow from its extremities, in order to preserve major organs, Dr. Chiampas said. The first signs of frostbite including tingling or pain in the affected areas. If you think you have frostbite, you should immediately go inside and check yourself for any discoloration or other clear sign of frostbite. Fingers, toes and the face are most often affected.
People with frostbite sometimes don’t realize what is happening, because their fingers or other parts of their bodies go numb as it sets in. And if they are also experiencing hypothermia, which can be deadly, their judgment could be seriously impaired.
Signs of frostbite include skin that has blistered or become discolored, or that feels unusually firm or waxy. It can result in permanent damage and amputation, and can be more dangerous the longer it goes without treatment.
“These are absolutely dangerous environments,” Dr. Chiampas said. “If people listen to this really, really important message, hopefully we can avoid some really unfortunate and sad outcomes.”
If you think you have frostbite, avoid using a heating pad or hot water, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns: If the affected area is numb, you could get burned. Until you can see a doctor, immerse the area in warm water, change into dry warm clothes, and use blankets and body heat, such as tucking fingers into armpits.
The C.D.C. warns against walking on frostbitten feet or toes or massaging affected areas, which can increase damage. So please don't go out if you don't have to but some professions, like healthcare do not have a choice. So dress in layers and take precautions as the temperatures we have been experiencing are life threatening! Keep warm everyone!