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Avoiding frostbite in sub-zero weather

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Expected wind chills Monday could reach as low as 40 below.

As the winter weather strikes and temperatures drastically drop, emergency room physicians tell us they're seeing more and more cases of frost bite and hypothermia.

"People don't understand how fast this can sit in and when you're outside and you're shoveling and you think you're staying warm, that sweat is going to bring your temperature down a lot faster than normal," said Dr. William Tressel of Borgess.

This week you may want to skip sledding with the kids. With wind chills 40 below zero, experts tell us it only takes 10 minutes for frostbite to set in.

"First thing is you get some numbness, kind of a tingling, pin prick sensation, whatever it is, whether its fingers, toes, ears, nose," said Dr. Tressel.

If you must travel, make sure and bring extra blankets and wear multiple layers in case you get stranded.

Waiting for help can take a while if you slide off the roads and prolonged exposure to the cold puts your body at risk of hypothermia.

"The first kind of thing we see is confusion, change of behavior over loved ones, extreme shivering leads to no shivering," said Dr. Tressel.

Doctors say the best prevention is to cover all exposed skin, remove wet clothing immediately, and stay indoors when possible.