Health hazards during snow storms

Dr Sapna Parikh reports live from the Upper West Side
January 2, 2014 9:08:21 PM PST
The frigid temperatures can be downright dangerous. But what is the number one problem doctors and paramedics see every time we have a snow storm?

New York City Paramedics have seen it all and the biggest problem they see is slips and falls.

As a paramedic for the last 10 years, Maximo Sierra says they don't often see severe cases of frostbite, but prevention is the solution.

"New York City's notorious for developing black ice so we have a lot of people crossing side-walks even after the streets have been plowed," Sierra said.

And in the blink of an eye, you end up with strains, sprains, or a broken bone.

"You get a lot of wrist and arm injuries because people catching themselves when they fall," Sierra said.

And with extreme cold temperatures, frostbite can set in fast so protect your skin! Cover as much as you can, leaving as little exposed as possible.

Wear a hat, gloves, and plenty of layers. Also wear sturdy boots with a good sole.

At the Minus 5 Ice Bar in Midtown, everything's ice. But at 23 degrees, that's warmer than what it is going to be outside and there's no wind or snow.

Chris Eldridge, the General Manager at Minus 5 Ice Bar elaborates on why you can't see your breath in the bar.

"We control humidity and we control air flow as you can see, you don't see your breath. That's because we remove all the humidity from the air," Eldridge said.

Don't forget to stay hydrated! It is something we often forget in the cold.

"You have blood flowing to all your extremities. Your fingers and toes and hands won't get as cold as fast," Sierra said.

There are four early warning signs to watch for, what we call the "umbles." It is someone who stumbles, mumbles, fumbles and grumbles. That means the cold is affecting the muscles, nerves and brain.

If you have kids, the overall rule in the cold is to put one more layer on them than you would on yourself. But with the temperatures we're expecting, especially tomorrow night, it's not worth it to take them outside at all.