Lincoln officials warn against cold exposure

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:19 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Cold exposure can happen in just minutes. Lincoln Fire and Rescue said when it’s zero degrees, and the wind is minimal they estimate it can take just 30 minutes outside for exposure to set in.

Factor in higher wind speeds and the countdown to exposure gets even shorter. With the next week looking cold, it’s important to stay inside if possible.

No matter how cold it may be, tent camps will exist in Lincoln. The People’s City Mission said some people will want to tough out the extreme temperatures, but their doors are open to everyone.

A tent camp located near Sun Valley Boulevard.
A tent camp located near Sun Valley Boulevard.(10/11 NOW)

“The Mission is open to everybody. We’re not requiring a COVID test or anything,” said Pastor Tom Barber, People’s City Mission. “We think the weather is as dangerous as the virus at this point.”

But it’s not just homeless people who’re impacted by this.

“Whether they’re out doing shopping, scooping snow,” said Captain Alan Crist, LFR. “It doesn’t take long before that exposed skin can become damaged.”

When temperatures start dipping, everyone is at risk.

“Our older and younger populations have a harder time regulating their temperatures,” said Capt. Crist. “Their cold injury will set in a lot faster than it would for you or I.”

There is no solid timeline for exposure.

“It varies greatly upon the wind chill, not only the temperature, what clothing you have on and the length of exposure is really what’s most important,” said Dr. John Bonta, Bryan Hospital.

But layering up can make a big difference.

“We worry about exposed skin,” said Dr. Bonta. “If you have quite a bit of exposed skin you’re going to have frostbite much quicker than you would have you have been covered up.”

And if you do have to venture out, and you get stranded, you need to stay in your car. It’s advised to pack a winter weather survival kit, first aid, jumper cables, a tool kit food and water, and blankets or sleeping bags.

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