Emergency Rooms Prep For West Michigan Frostbite and Hypothermia cases

Posted at 10:39 AM, Jan 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-07 10:40:21-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The extreme freeze combined with wicked wind chills aren’t just miserable to be in, they are dangerous as well.

Authorities are urging people to stay inside if they can.  Extended periods outdoors can quickly lead to a trip to the emergency room.

According to doctors are Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming a lot of people are apparently listening to that advice.

The staff at the hospital were told to prepare for an overnight stay if needed as conditions continue to worsen outside.

Frostbite on exposed skin is a real concern in this type of weather according to Metro Health Emergency Room Doctor Patricia Guntern.

“They might start to get numb and tingly,” she said.  “Then you might start to lose all feeling and that would be a really bad sign.”

With negative wind chills approaching -30, frostbite can set in in as little as 15 minutes.

Dr. Guntern said, “Your skin will start to get really red at first and then it might start to blanch or become white.”

If you react too late you can still try and treat the frostbite without a trip to the hospital.

“The best way to warm up is to stick your hands in a warm water bath or a warm blanket, or towel, or a warm part of your body,” she said.

Hot water should be avoided as it can burn your body and lead to other problems.

Another major concern for health professionals is hypothermia.  Doctors say this comes on differently for many people.  Usually if you stop shivering and are still cold or can’t think clearly you should get inside and warm up immediately.