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Doctor Warns Of Frostbite Risk Ahead Of Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Hearty Minnesotans know when the temperatures drop, it is important to limit time outside.

Tens of thousands of visitors are in town for the Super Bowl this week -- many of whom have never experienced the cold.

There are some important warning signs to watch for, and experts say a common risk factor is alcohol.

"Our concern is a bunch of folks from warmer climes that come in and suffer injury related to the cold," said Dr. Ryan Fey, from Hennepin County Medical Center's burn unit.

The level one trauma center across the street from U.S. Bank Stadium has prepared for an influx of patients.

"We drill on this, we prepare for it, we discuss it," Fey said.

Frostbite can set in in minutes when the temperature plummets. Fey warns frostbite often happens on the exposed part of the skin: nose, fingers or ears will go numb.

Winter Clothing
(credit: CBS)

"Pain is probably the cardinal symptom. That's the first indication that it's time to get inside, get warmed up," he said. "Other things that you can notice is kind of numb, clumsy feeling."

Dr. Fey also says alcohol can hinder the ability to feel frostbite.

"It changes our decision making and impairs our judgement. It also blunts the symptoms of a problem developing," he said. "When one is experiencing pain, it's time to warm up. And if that's been blunted or impaired, they stay out longer and suffer deeper or worse injuries."

That is why Fey suggests wearing layers and bundling up in the event you are in line for an extended period of time, or are injured and can't get indoors to warm up.

"Prepare for the elements, and not just preparing for the transition from one place to another, but being prepared for the unfortunate event that you're stuck outside for a period of time," Fey said.

HCMC has extra staff on hand. Some physician teams and support staff are stationed at the hospital.

The hospital partnered with nearby hospitals in case there is an influx of patients and people need to be transferred.

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