Frigid temperatures persist in Chicago area

January 25, 2008 10:17:49 AM PST
Friday has been another morning of bitter cold in the Chicago area, although the temperature did rise above zero.

Chicago area residents are being warned to take the arctic cold very seriously.

Sub-zero temperatures and arctic wind chills are making conditions uncomfortable, dangerous, and difficult for anyone who has to work or be outside.

"I try to wear layers of clothes," said newspaper vendor Wallace Johnson. "[I wear] three or four pairs of pants, a couple of pairs of gloves. If you're out here without gloves for a few minutes, you feel your hands start to tingling."

The bitter weather has almost anyone brave enough to venture outdoors bundling up. Experts say the deep freeze can be deadly and doctors at local hospitals say extreme weather can put everyone at risk, not only for frostbite but also hypothermia.

Mount Sinai's emergency room had already treated dozens of patients Friday morning. With temperatures hovering below the freezing mark, the hospital staff expects to see even more people fall prey to the cold.

Dr. Leslie Zun says some people suffer superficial frostbite because they are not paying attention to how cold it is or find themselves outside by accident. More severe frostbite happens after long exposure to the cold, he said.

"The third [group is made of] those that, for one reason or another, don't have the mental capacity. They have been drinking or they have been doing drugs. They are just not thinking the way people normally think. They go out there and they stay out longer than most people would," Dr. Zun said.

Doctors say those going outside should be sure to bundle up in layers, cover their heads and put on gloves. Chicagoans are warned not to stay outside any longer than necessary and encouraged to check on the elderly and the young.

Experts want to make sure everyone understands that anyone can fall prey to frostbite and then associate hypothermia that will come from getting that frostbite. Anyone beginning to feel tingling in the fingers or feel a bit disoriented, should go inside and possibly seek medical attention.