EMS Captain Explains Health Dangers of Cold Weather

Lynchburg, VA- Temperatures are dropping and this cold air can be dangerous if you don't take the right precautions.

ABC 13 spoke with Lynchburg EMS Captain Diron Martin Friday about the risks that go along with these low temperatures; that includes frostnip, frostbite and hypothermia if you're exposed to the elements for too long.

Too long is different with every person.

Martin says there are multiple factors involved, and that there really is no set time frame of when frostbite or hypothermia can set in. Martin says it depends on how much clothing you're wearing, your weight, your tolerance for cold weather, and even what kind of medication you're on.

"Seizure medications, any type of psychotic medications, alcohol, barbiturates, anything that suppresses or reduces heart rate, blood pressure, any of that. Just be cautious being outside in the cold," Martin said.

Technically, hypothermia starts when your internal body temperature dips below 95 degrees. Before that happens, you'll probably get some warning signs from your extremities. So Martin says to monitor yourself, and know when you need a break from the cold.

"The body will tell you. When you start, like I said when your fingertips start to get cold, your toes start to get cold, your nose tip starts to get cold-those are signs it's time to go in. If you start coughing outside from the cold air getting down into your lungs, it's probably time to go inside and take a break," said Martin.

Take a look at your fingers if you want to see a warning sign. Martin says if the tips of your fingers start to get red, you need to warm up. He says that signifies the early stages of frostnip, when just the top layers of your skin start to freeze. When your entire finger turns white, you definitely want to warm up, because you're on your way to frostbite at that point.

If you leave any part of your skin exposed to the cold temperatures, there will be the potential for frostbite, so be sure to bundle up before you head outside.