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Health officials urge people to cover up if they go out in frigid temperatures

Corey Templeton

With frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills affecting central and northern New York over the next few days, health officials are warning residents how to stay safe in subzero temperatures. 

It’s all pretty much common sense stuff says Onondaga County Health Department Medical Director Quoc Nguyen said it doesn’t take much time for frostbite to develop in these harsh weather conditions.

"When the temperature outside is 12 degrees and the wind is 25 miles per hour or something, it takes 30 minutes. About 30 minutes to one hour exposed to your face to get frostbite," said Nguyen.

Wind chills around the region Thursday will be close to -20. Nguyen said it's important to make sure you’re bundled up when you go outside, especially your head and hands.

"There’s almost no way cover your face and be safe, so it’s exposed," he said. "And also our head is large, so we lose a lot of heat through our head, so cover your head. And you’re fingers, they’re thin and they don’t have much mass so they lose heat rapidly."

Nguyen also said that the flu virus loves cold temperatures, and with people staying inside because of the cold, that means it’s easier to spread. Already this year, Nguyen said the rate of flu cases is higher than the same time last year, which was considered a bad year for the virus.

According to department statistics, 228 cases were reported in Onondaga County the week ending January 27.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.