TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - With skin exposed to very cold temperatures for a longer period of time, you are more likely to suffer some type of cold injury.
Your cold injury is related to the amount of time that you spend in the cold relative to how much exposure you have.
One is frostbite, which freezes a certain part of your body, such as the nose, ears, or fingers.
It starts with the body part feeling numb. Then you lose sensation permanently before it becomes a stage classified as extreme.
"It actually kills the tissue and the tissue dies and turns black that actually is tissue that has to be removed by a way of amputation," explained Dr. Jonathan Tripp, Doctor at Tripp Family Medicine.
Another effect is hypothermia. You start with shivering. Then it affects your mental state.
"All of your organs tend to slow down and shut down because their effectiveness is slowed so much that it can threaten your life," said Dr. Tripp. "The core temperature needs to be reheated and that can be done in a number of ways. Drinking warmer or hot water would actually be a good beginning, but often we'll use heated IV fluids to bring somebody back."
Once your body becomes cold enough, you will then begin to feel hot, which will lead to clothing removal.
"In emergency medicine, we have a rule that you're not dead until you're warm and dead. So if someone comes in cold, we will resuscitate them until we get the body temperature up to a level where we can get a heart rate," said Dr. Adam Bowman of St. Luke's Magic Valley Emergency Medicine.
To prevent such mishaps, always be aware of some things.
"Really just paying attention to your body. If you're feeling cold, if you're shivering, you're already reaching early stages of hypothermia and that's probably a good idea to get inside and get warm," said Dr. Bowman.
"If dressed appropriately, we're pretty safe even at –10 degrees but if it drops into the –20/30 range, really, we should be avoiding going outside," said Dr. Tripp.
Always remember to limit your skin exposure when you are outside in below freezing--especially sub-zero--temperatures.
Additionally, have extra blankets in your car when you go on long trips to help you stay warm in the event that you become stranded.