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Doctors say frostbite can develop quickly in extremely cold conditions

Experts say bitterly cold temperatures can be dangerous and quickly compromise a person’s health.

“It doesn’t take long for frostbite to develop,” Dr. Christopher Sampson, MU Health Care Emergency Medicine Program Director told ABC 17 News in an interview Tuesday.

He said frostbite can develop in about 10 minutes with exposure when it’s “super cold.”

“When the temperatures get really low and the wind chill approaches zero, it’s important for people to remember that, with even a short amount of time outside, you can quickly develop frostbite. Some people may not realize that because they may be scraping off their car.”

Dr. Sampson said it’s important to wear gloves and cover up any exposed skin. He said symptoms of frostbite include severe pain in any exposed areas.

“If you do start to develop the symptoms, you can go inside and warm up. Sometimes just being in a warm area will help reverse the symptoms if they’ve just started,” Sampson said.

Sampson said doctors sees a lot of patients in the ER in the winter time with cold exposure, broken bones or sprains from falling on ice or injuries from crashes where ice or snow play a role. He also said a generator should never be run inside a home.

“If people don’t have the money to heat their homes, they may use generators or other objects to heat the house, and sometimes that can lead to fatal consequences because of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Here is a list of available warming centers in Columbia.

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