Local medical professionals and firefighters say cold air can become dangerous

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Extremely cold temperatures can cause folks to experience frostbite and frostnip, but according to Jimmy McKanna, respiratory therapist with Union Hospital, protecting your lungs is just as important as your hands and feet.

“It’s really important that the air you take in, that it gets warm before it gets down to your lungs,” McKanna said.

According to McKanna, typically your body will heat the air you breathe in on its own. In extremely cold weather this isn’t always the case and to avoid illness extra precautions must be taken.

“It’s really important if you can to cover your nose, cover your mouth, to try to warm that air before it comes in,” McKanna said.

If the air isn’t warmed before it reaches the lungs McKanna says it could lead to serious illness, but there are methods available to avoid this.

“You have more suspectibility for pneunomia and being ill during those times. So using a humidifier at home, especially if you have lung problems to increase in the humidity within your house, it helps a lot,” McKanna said.
    
Folks at home aren’t the only one’s who should be prepared to fight the conditions as Josh Sittler, the public information officer with the Honey Creek Fire Department, says first responders at his station are getting ready for whatever the weather may bring, which includes wearing extra clothes.

“Long underwear, extra shirts, some extra thick socks, to ensure that they stay warm,” Sittler said.

If extra clothes aren’t enough, Sittler says other backup plans may come in to play.

“Surrounding departments such as Prairieton and Otter Creek have what we call rehab buses and those buses can provide heat,” Sittler said.

Sittler says during extremely cold temperatures that his department expects calls of hypothermia and house fires due to heating sources.

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