Doctors fear frost bite, hypothermia cases will go up with dropping temps

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Bitter wind chills have physicians reminding people to dress appropriately over the harsh cold spell.

A Wind Chill Advisory was in effect for the first half of Friday, with steady winds and single-digit temperatures pushing the wind chill to -10° to -20° in some areas. While the temperatures will rise for a few days, the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday of next week project high temperatures of single digits and lows below zero.

Dr. Alex Doxey said while most of the winter in central Indiana has been rather mild, they have already seen patients with cold-related injuries, like frost bite and hypothermia. Doxey said the colder predicted weather will likely mean those cases will only increase.

"You can be outside for 15 to 20 minutes if the wind chill is bad enough," said Doxey, who is an emergency physician at IU Health's University Hospital. "If you only have on a couple layers, maybe just one, it can really get to you pretty quickly and your core temperature can start to drop."

Doxey said many cases they've seen are with patients who can't escape the cold.

The degrees of injuries vary but in extreme cases, people can lose extremities as a result of overexposure to the cold.

"The things that are most effected are the digits," said Doxey. "That’s the fingers, toes, ears and nose, especially people who don’t have good hats and scarves."

Despite the dropping temperatures, many people are still outside making a living.

"I like the cold weather," said Dion Clark, a roofer on a job along West 71st Street. "So, it takes longer for me to get cold. I don’t mind it at all, I prefer it over summer."

Clark said he and his crew work until they get cold and then get inside. Then repeat the process throughout the day.

"You just double up on clothing," he said. "Go in and warm up when you can, but pretty much stay out here and the next thing you know it’s time to go home."

A few blocks down the road, several crews of tree trimmers were removing branches while bundled up.

Construction crews were fighting to stay warm in Broad Ripple, too, where work on the Red Line continues.

"Just about everybody gets in the van for 20 minutes, stays warm, and then gets back out and goes at it again," said Damon Bogard.

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