Doctors warn of hypothermia, frostbite

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Though school officials said that classes may be cancelled if the weather holds its course, doctors warn that people of all ages should be taking precautions against the cold.

Dr. Eric Ernest with the Nebraska Medicine Emergency Department warned of profound hypothermia, which is what happens when body temperatures drop so low that it can kill.

"You can go all the way to the stage where you're having alter-mentation, where you're not thinking properly, not acting correctly and then all the way to where you're basically comatose and not responsive. Those people have profound hypothermia, requiring active resuscitation and warming measures," Ernest said.

RELATED: Cold weather safety information

Kevin Podany is a delivery person and has to brave the cold to complete his job.

"It's just terrible out here. Not wearing gloves, your hands freeze, your face freezes and it's just really cold," he said.

Podany's strategy for getting through the brutally cold days is straightforward.

"Just get in the building as soon as I can, get in a warm car, get out of the outside as fast as I can," he said.

Ernst said emergency rooms treat about 15 people every 24 hours for cold-related injuries and complications when temperatures fall well below freezing.

He also said that frostbite will set in fast this week.

"In this weather, especially this upcoming Wednesday, when we're talking about wind chills in the negative 30's in the morning, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes of exposed skin, you can start to incur frostbite. So, a very short amount of time," Ernest said.

OPS said they base their decision about school closures partly on concerns about frostbite. They said if a child can get frostbite with in 15 minutes, that's too cold for them to be out waiting for a school bus or walking.

It has not yet been announced if they will cancel school.