Living the Midwest, you can experience some pretty horrendous weather. In the last couple weeks, we experienced a polar vortex. According the Weather Channel at least 17 deaths were linked to the polar vortex, as well as frostbite. These temperatures can be life threatening. In Minnesota wind chill temperatures were as low as – 66 degrees. The United State Postal Service (USPS) was closed for several days, as well as schools and Universities. Staying safe in Wisconsin’s harsh winter weather is important especially for commuting students.
What is Frostbite?
In freezing temperatures frostbite can set in as little as five minutes. Just like water turns to ice when the temperature drops, your fingers, hands, toes, feet – even your nose and ears can freeze. When it’s cold out, exposed skin may get red or sore. This is called frostnip, and it’s an early warning sign of frostbite. If this happens, find warm shelter quickly. Early frostbite affects the top layers of the skin. More advanced cases can go all the way through to the muscles and bones.
There are three stages of frostbite. The first or early stage; Skin turns a pale yellow or white and It may itch, sting, burn, or feel like pins and needles. During the second or intermediate stage skin becomes hard and looks shiny or waxy. When the skin thaws, blisters filled with fluid or blood form. The last stage skin is very hard and cold to the touch and darkens quickly. It may look blue and later turn black. Some people don’t know they have frostbite because as it gets worse, you can’t feel the area anymore. That’s why it’s important to watch for changes in skin color.
It is important to dress appropriately for the weather. Limit time in the elements and make sure to cover all exposed skin. It is important to layer your clothes loosely, because it will allow your body heat to flow freely. A three-layer system works best. The first should be of a material that helps keep you dry. The second goes over the first and should be made of an insulator like wool or fleece. The third should be worn on top and should be wind and waterproof.
There are warming stations throughout Kenosha. There are many emergency services available as well. If you find yourself in need of assistance you can call 211. They can help you find many types of resources to keep you safe in this weather. Most importantly keep yourself safe. If the weather is too severe stay home. Your life is more precious than errands, work, school.
Remember to stay safe out there. Wear warm clothes, and most importantly ask for help if you need it. In the famous words of George R.R. Martin, “nothing burns like the cold”.