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Dr. Max Gomez: Snow, Cold Temperatures Pose Serious Health Risks

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A man crosses the street using a snowblower in the Bronx on January 3, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert/Getty Images)

A man crosses the street using a snowblower in the Bronx on January 3, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The snow and frigid temperatures that hit the city on Thursday and Friday can be more than just a nuisance. They can also present a health risk, especially for those who don’t know the warning signs of trouble.

Kids long for snow days and the chance to go out and play, but whether you are a youngster or an adult frigid temperatures call for precautions, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

The most likely problem under these conditions is frostnip or its more serious cousin, frostbite.

“Parts of you that are most at-risk are going to be fingers and ears and the tip of the nose and toes,” explained Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. De Lonzer.

Numb skin that begins to turn white or gray, or feels unusually firm or waxy are the first warning signs of a problem. Experts caution against rubbing the affected area because it can increase tissue damage. Instead, they suggest getting indoors and warming the area with body heat or warm, not hot, water as body parts can easily burn when they are numb.

“A scarf should be wrapped around the face to cover the nose and you should have the scarf over your ears, a hat over your ears, earmuffs over your ears, something to cover your ears,” Dr. Lonzer said.

Mittens are warmer than gloves and waterproof boots with wool socks can protect vulnerable toes. Dressing in layers also helps to trap body heat, CBS 2’s Dr. Gomez explained.

The reason that mittens are warmer is a matter of physics. Gloves have more surface area for heat to escape. Mittens keep warm fingers close to each other.

Shoveling snow can also put a big strain on your heart, shoulders and back. If possible enlist the help of teenagers when clearing out your driveway.

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