The following news release is from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
Even as snowstorms start to leave Kansas, wind chill factors will approach dangerous levels during the evening hours, dipping below zero in some areas. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment encourages Kansans to be safe and exercise caution during and after the storms.
"Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold," said Robert Moser, MD., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. "Most common cold weather-related problems are frostbite and hypothermia. If you experience symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite you need to seek medical care."
To prevent harm in extremely cold temperatures, take the time to prepare before you head outdoors, even for short periods of time. It's important during these winter storms to dress properly and to carry with you the right gear and equipment when leaving home.
Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin - frostbite may be beginning.
“A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb,” explained Moser.
If there is frostbite, but no sign of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:
· Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
· Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes; this increases the damage.
· Immerse the affected area in warm--not hot—water. The temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body.
· Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
· Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
· Don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
Moser also noted that refreezing will occur as temperatures drop again, increasing the risk of falls on ice and packed snow; injuries have been reported across the state resulting from people slipping on ice.