Wind Chill Ups Chances Of Frostbite

Jan 6, 2014

Record low temperatures and wind chills are expected Monday night and Tuesday, and medical experts are urging people to take precautions to avoid frostbite, hypothermia and other health risks associated with cold weather.

Cleveland Clinic Physician Stephen Meldon says the elderly, children and people with circulation issues are most at risk of developing frostbite.

Meldon:  We really worry when there's a wind chill factor out, because that makes a body lose heat faster than it normally would at that same temperature.  So, it can happen really over several hours, if you're outdoors working or walking around, not aware that you're getting cold.

Meldon says frostbite is classified like burns - in degrees - and treatment is based on the severity.

Meldon:  For superficial ones, you really should re-warm it in warm water.  Be careful - you don't want to have hot water.  It may be very painful; you may need to take Motrin or something else to cover the pain.  If it's very severe frostbite, you should really seek medical attention.

Meldon says signs of frostbite include a cold sensation that turns to tingling and numbness, and red, white or graying skin. He says hypothermia can lead to confusion, unconsciousness and death. The Centers for Disease Control says there are 13 hundred deaths in the U.S. each year that are associated with exposure to excessive cold.