Avoiding the threat of frostbite, hypothermia as cold settles in to central Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 14, 2015) -- The frigid temperatures settling in to central Indiana could make you sick, or even kill you, if you don't prepare for it. Doctors say there are some simple rules to keep you healthy and out of the emergency room. The temperatures outside are cold enough to cause frost bite or even hypothermia, but the wind chill, which is the way it feels when the wind blows, makes the feel much worse. The wind at times Saturday almost caused some damage.

Angela Swincher was at a gas station just off I-70 in Knightstown as the high wind gusts caused the station's canopy to rock back and forth.

"It was twisting and turning and it looked like it might come down at any time," Swincher said. "It was a little scary."

Swincher says Saturday's wind gusts were out of the ordinary.

"Especially when the canopy was blowing around like that, I don't think I've ever seen that," she said.

Now comes another concern, frostbite and hypothermia.

"Hypothermia can set in very quickly with in 20 to 30 minutes in the right conditions," said Doctor Butch Humbert, an emergency physician at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis.

Dr. Humbert says symptoms include shivering, which is your body trying to get warm. If the shivering stops and confusion sets in, it's time to call an ambulance. Numbness and tingling of the toes and fingers are early signs of frost bite. If your fingers and toes are bright white, and normal color doesn't return in 30 minutes, you'll need to see a doctor.

"We've had a much milder winter this year, which is great, certainly every once in a while it gets cold and you have to take some precautions," Humbert said.

Precautions should include thick warm gloves, a hat, scarf and he says dress in layers. You should also limit your outdoor exposure in cold like this. Dr. Humbert says there have been a few cases of frost bite this year, and it's preventable with his safety tips.

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