Cases of Frostbite up this winter

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

Frostbite is something Wisconsinites are familiar with.
Area doctors tell WEAU- cases of frostbite have nearly doubled from last year.

The Sacred Heart Hospital Emergency Department says on average, Wisconsin winters bring in around 7-8 people with what would be considered ‘severe cases’ of frost bite.
This year the hospital treated closer to 20.

“It's been a really cold January,” said Eau Claire resident Gale Polkoski.

With the wind chill already hitting close to 50 below this winter the Director of the Emergency Department at Sacred Heart Jim Concannon says it is not surprising more people are exposed to frostbite this year.

“Recently there was a case where there was a deep frost bit leg and foot; miraculously there was only a loss of a few digits,” said Concannon.

He says it's the wind chill factor that causes the heat to escape your body and areas that are far from circulation of the heart are most susceptible to freezing- ears, nose, fingers, and toes.

“I know that it doesn't take long for your skin to freeze,” said Polkoski.

Doctors say it's a matter of minutes. The skin can blister; veins and nerves can freeze causing permanent damage; something Polkoski says she does not want to experience.

“I'll put on my long underwear, I put the socks over that, I wear really good boots; I really protect myself,” she said.

That's what Wyatt Buxman, who moved to Eau Claire from central California in September, says he learned fast.

“I usually do my best, to keep as much skin covered up as possible, from the wind,” he said.

Doctors say people who do get frostbite usually neglect the prevention measures and are not wearing proper winter apparel.

“I think there is tragedy both cosmetically and functionally,” said Doctor Concannon.

“The tissues that are at risk are the ones that get us around on our feet, that help us grab and smell; it's very special tissues and it shouldn't be overlooked.”

Doctors say it's important to always be prepared when you get into a vehicle. Even for short trips, if something happened to your vehicle you could be exposed fast.


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