Cold temperatures can lead to serious health issues

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Dipping temperatures mean paramedics are busy keeping people out of the weather and breathing clearly.

"We have fire incidents and things because will be trying to use heaters that they may not have used recently," said Dr. Sherrie Squyres, medical director for Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (HEMSI)

In addition to the blazes, home heaters put a few in the back of an ambulance since the cold swept across the Tennessee Valley.

"[A household was] running kerosene heaters inside their house for supplemental heat," said HEMSI chief operating officer Don Webster. "They started suffering signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning."

But much of the danger is outside. If not dressed correctly, the tingly numbness in your fingers and toes can eventually become frost-nip, frostbite, and, if extremely severe, hypothermia.

"You start having circulatory problems, heart problems, and those types of things," explained Dr. Squyres.

The extremities are the first thing to go numb and go cold because your body is working to keep your core, and ultimately your brain, warm.

People most susceptible to body temperature dips are the elderly and the young.

According to Dr. Squyres, the delayed school starts in the bitter cold can make a big difference: children are not out in the early morning hours waiting for a bus, and the degree and windchill difference can change the way children's bodies react.

Though the rate at which body temperatures drop varies depending on age, standing in the cold, let alone without proper clothing.

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