UCHealth in Aurora sees record number frostbite cases after frigid weekend

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AURORA | Colorado experienced brutally cold temperatures over the weekend and the UCHealth Burn and Frostbite Center on the Anschutz Campus in north Aurora has the frostbite patients to prove it. 

“At this time, we currently have 26 patients with frostbite in our hospital, the most we’ve ever had at one time,” spokesperson Jessica Berry said in a news release Monday. 

Extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ears are most susceptible to frostbite, UCHealth warns. Symptoms of frostbite include shivering, numbness, clumsy movements, a pale color to the skin, pain that persists for 45 minutes or more after warming and increased redness or discoloration after warming.

At a temperature of 5 degrees with 30 mph winds, frostbite can set in in just 30 minutes. At -5 degrees with 30 mph winds, it takes just 10 minutes.

Saturday the National Weather Service recorded a high of 6 degrees and a low of -6 degrees. On Sunday the high was 3 degrees with a low of -8.

UCHealth recommends these steps to prevent frostbite:

  • Dress in layers and make sure your outerwear remains dry.
  • Wear a loose fabric like wool for your inner layer of clothing.
  • Take frequent breaks when outside in cold temperatures.
  • Wear a hat and earmuffs to protect your head.
  • Wear heavy mittens instead of gloves, and two pairs of thin socks instead of one pair of thick socks.
  • Keep a winter survival kit in your car with equipment such as blankets, matches and extra clothes.

If you suspect you might have frostbite, remove wet clothing, get into a warm environment and avoid rubbing the area, the release said. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Temperatures throughout the Denver metroplex are expected to warm throughout the week. Tuesday the high is expected to be near 40. There’s a 50% chance of snow on Wednesday. The high will be 30. By next Tuesday, weather forecasters predict temperatures reaching the low 60s.

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