Doctors caution against risk of frostbite, hypothermia in severe weather

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Doctors urge stateline residents to bundle up for the next few days, as the chances of getting medical conditions like frostbite and hypothermia rise as the temperature falls.

“Frostbite is an injury that’s really just to the skin and your extremities, then hypothermia is when you actually start to get your whole body shutting down due to extreme exposure to cold,” said Dr. Gary Fernando, Chief Medical Officer with Crusader Community Health.

With the wind chill expected to drop below negative 20 degrees for much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, doctors urge you to be alert for signs of hypothermia, especially if you’re outside for more than 20 minutes. Dr. Fernando says it starts with the shivers.

“And then you would start to see maybe some slurred speech, maybe someone becoming lethargic and not responding as well,” he said.

The warning signs of frostbite show up much faster because they affect the outer layers of your body like fingers and toes. Fernando’s recommendation? Bundle up.

“Someone who’s experiencing frostbite might say that their fingers and toes are burning. Or the opposite that they might be becoming numb and they’re losing feeling in those extremities,” he told 23 News.

Rockford’s Blain’s Farm and Fleet plans to keep shelves filled with cold weather gear and managers there say there are a ton of choices.

“Anything that you’re looking for we have it in stock. There’s not one thing we’re out of stock of,” said manager Steven Scalish.

Fernando says another warning sign to look out for with those medical conditions is wet clothes. If you think a person is affected by hypothermia, it’s important to get them out of wet clothes and into dry ones immediately.