Frigid weather requires winter safety

The first symptoms of frostbite are a “pins and needles” sensation followed by numbness.

Vincent Staupe

Students across campus ran between buildings and huddled under bus shelter heat lamps as some of the coldest air of the season settled over the area Monday.

Wildlife ecology first-year student Casey Sleznikow waited at a bus stop along Washington Avenue Southeast for a Campus Connector to take her to class in St. Paul.

“I actually forgot my hat and gloves in my room today and I’m really regretting that,” she said.

While the cold might be a mere inconvenience for some, experts warn that students should not take bitter temperatures lightly.

Dave Golden, Boynton Health Service’s public health and marketing director, said the clinic sees cases of frostbite every year.

“I’m amazed at the number of us out there without gloves or hats on,” he said.

Frostbite is damage to the skin and underlying tissues caused by extreme cold, according to Boynton’s Web site. The first symptoms of frostbite are a “pins and needles” sensation followed by numbness.

“You’re talking about the actual freezing of tissue,” Golden said. “If people do get frostbite, they should come into the clinic right away.”

He added that the combination of cold temperatures and alcohol use brings an increased risk of injury.

“You have less circulation out in the extremities when you’ve been drinking and you may be less aware of what is happening,” Golden said.

Ultimately, he said, winter safety is all about preparedness.

“Whether you’re driving or busing, plan for something going wrong from time to time,” he said, adding that waiting at a bus stop for an extended period of time is not unusual.

Mary Sienko, the University’s Parking and Transportation Services marketing director, said students waiting for buses need to dress sensibly for the weather.

“Our recommendation is no different than common sense,” Sienko said.

While the department provides an extra van for its University Paratransit service during frigid temperatures because of higher demand, no other buses have been added to regular routes, Sienko said.

“They’re already at peak capacity,” she said.

Sienko suggested students use the Gopher Way tunnel and skyway systems to avoid the cold.

In addition, finding a spot where you can wait for the bus from the comfort of a building also helps, she said.

But even computer science first-year student Ambreasha Frazier, who waited for a Campus Connector from the entrance of the McNamara Alumni Center, said dressing appropriately is important.

On the web

To view which weather conditions cause frostbite, go to The National Weather Service website.

“I wear more layers of clothing and sweaters,” Frazier said.

And although the forecast from the Climate Prediction Center said the temperatures in Minnesota during the next three months will be above average, it provided little comfort for students like Sleznikow on Monday.

“The wind is wicked,” she said. “It’s brutal.”