MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Warm weather might be on the way, but this weekend’s winter blast left a frigid footprint across the Twin Cities.
Instead of hearing Christmas carols ring throughout Loring Park for Holidazzle, it was just a silent night.
“It’s just really disappointing,” said Walter Anderson. He works security for event and was the lone person in the park Sunday night. He also runs Walt’z Wings and Bar-B-Que, one of the several vendors that had to take the day off since the event shut down due to the extreme cold.
“It’s one of those things where ‘the show must go on.’ So when they (canceled) it I was really, really surprised. But thinking about the safety of the public and all, it’s probably best that we didn’t do this thing today,” he said.
Dr. Ryan Fey, the burn director at Hennepin County Medical Center, echoed Holidazzle’s concern.
“The number of (cold weather) injuries we see is directly proportional to how cold it gets and so sure enough last night we had a very busy night,” he said.
Dr. Fey said 10 patients checked into the ER between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, when temperatures dipped to around 20 degrees below zero with the wind chill at around 40 degrees below zero.
He said of the 10 patients, some had symptoms of hypothermia while others frostbite.
“The more severe cases (of frostbite) that we’ve seen so far have been on the feet,” he said.
Dr. Fey showed us an X-ray picture of a recent patient’s frost bitten feet. Half of each foot was black in the picture because there was no blood flow in that specific area. He said it’s possible the patient will need part of each foot amputated.
Dr. Fey said the fact that it was a weekend also contributed to the rush of patients. He said that’s because people sometimes dress for a night out, not the weather. People also might drink alcohol which impairs judgement and dulls the senses.
“(They) don’t notice the pain, the numbness, the tingling that would be some of the early signs that frostbite is developing and often times don’t recognize it until it’s too late,” he said.
Dr. Fey combating frostbite and hypothermia starts by simply layering up with winter hats, gloves, boots and a thick coat. He added that people should limit how much time they spend outside.
If someone believes they’re showing signs of frostbite, like when the skin on their hands loses their pink color it doesn’t return, they should immediately try to get warm. He said if a case appears to be severe, people should just head straight to an emergency room.
“We only have a few hours before we can really salvage digits or limbs or whatever it may be,” he said.
People hoping to enjoy Holidazzle this week won’t have to worry about extremely cold temperatures. Because it was shut down for the day, the event extended its hours from Noon to 10 p.m. on Dec. 22-23.
Anderson was excited to hear he’d have more time to cook up food for customers.
“It gives the folks a chance to come out in 30 degree weather,” he said with a smile.