It’s one of winter’s great ironies. Now that there’s enough snow to sled, it’s too cold to do it.
This hill just south of the capitol is fast enough for a whole day’s worth of fun, but not when temperatures are below zero.
“We’ve been out here for about 10 minutes. We’re probably going to leave after this. It’s really cold,” said sledder, William Van Der Mark.
Much more than ten minutes and sledders can be at serious risk for frost bite.
Katie Hill, a flight nurse at Iowa Methodist has seen cases that would make you cringe.
“We’ve seen people lose toes, fingers, ears,” said Hill.
Frost bite can kick in fast. Mix Monday night’s forecasted low of -8 degrees with winds of 5-10 miles per hour and you may feel it in as little as thirty minutes.
Hill says some of the worst cases she’s seen involve travelers stranded without emergency kits in their cars.
“You have to prepare, plan ahead, and take extra precautions. Put blankets in your car and boots,” said Hill.
Your dog may love playing in the snow, but it’s just as important to watch out for his or her well being.
“We don’t want them to be outside for very long,” says Josh Colvin with the Animal Care and Control Center.
Every winter, Colvin sees frost bitten paws and dogs frozen to death in non-insulated kennels.
“If it’s cold for us, it’s cold for dogs,” said Colvin.
Puppies may have plenty of energy to burn, but their body heat goes fast.
“Even if they’re out there to go to the bathroom, 20-30 minutes can affect them quick,” Colvin told Channel 13 News.
None of Des Moines’ local hospitals keep track of how many patients are treated for frost bite or hypothermia, but it’s been a dangerous winter thus far.
Mercy Hospital has treated 47 people for slips and falls at its campuses, while Iowa Methodist and Lutheran have seen 89 patients.