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How Long Is Too Long To Be Outside In This Weather?

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CEDAR RAPIDS - Many kids have spent at least a part of these snow days enjoying the time off outside. But as the temperatures drop even lower, parents need to know how long is too long to be outdoors.

The hill behind Roosevelt Middle School serves one purpose when it snows.

"We're sledding down this humongous hill," says Tyler Pasker.

Humongous is an accurate description. So, why do these kids want to walk all the way back up for a mere ten second ride on a sled?

"Just for fun," says Ben Ford.

"Because it's fun," says Aaron Moose.

"I'm just out here to have fun," says Pasker.

In case it's not clear, sledding there is fun. But spending hours going up and down this hill can be dangerous.

"Just because I am having so much fun, I don't think about what the temperature is," says Ford.

When they're having so much fun, the kids tell say they forget about how cold it is. But doctors say it's not long before the frostbite sets in.

"When the wind chills get down minus 10 or minus 20 degrees below, you can start seeing frostbite in as little as 30 minutes," says Dr. Rob Braksiek of Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.

Thursday afternoon's windchill was about 15 degrees below zero. No wonder the sledders were freezing.

"Pretty much my cheeks and nose," says Ford.

Doctors say layer up and cover up as much skin as possible, especially younger children and the elderly.

"The first symptoms of frostbite are you have redness and then pain in the exposed skin. And later that will turn into numbness, and the skin will become waxy, whitish, and pale," says Dr. Braksiek.

Doctors also say to step inside as soon as your skin turns red and starts to hurt. Some of the sledders found a creative way to do that.

"Leave the van running, keep the heat on, and go in every five minutes to warm up," says Linda Al-Suleiman.

That way they don't have to miss out on the fun at Roosevelt Middle School.

Mercy Medical Center has not seen any cases of frostbite this week, bu emergency room physicians expect that to change as the wind chills continue to fall.

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