How to stay safe in extremely cold weather

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(Sam Householder/The Elkhart Truth)

With a winter weather system rolling into parts of the Midwest on Thursday, Indiana could soon see temperatures drop below freezing.

At such cold temperatures, frostbite becomes a legitimate concern, says Dr. Tyler Stepsis, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Eskenazi Health. He says as temperatures start to drop below freezing, you should avoid going outside for extended periods of time.

“Even if you are extremely well bundled-up, the body still sweats,” Stepsis said. “You want to make sure you aren’t accumulating wetness next to your body, because even in those types of situations, you can get frostbite.”

According to Stepsis, depending on how cold it is, frostbite can settle in as little as fifteen minutes. He says if you have frostbite, your skin will first turn red, and be very painful. That redness will later develop into clear blisters before transitioning into “hemorrhagic” blisters, or blood blisters. In the end, Stepsis says, your skin will begin to turn dusty or black, a sign of dead tissue.

If you have to go outside, Stepsis says, you don’t want to have exposed skin out in the cold for too long. As a result, he says to bundle up, stay warm and dry and look out for others.

“Always make sure you check on those who are a little less fortunate or less able to care for themselves,” Stepsis said. “Make sure that the elderly folks around you are taken care of because they are more susceptible to cold than the rest of us for sure.”

Stepsis also recommends keeping an eye on your space heaters, and says if you have to leave the house, stay masked, stay distant and wash your hands.

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