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Deep Freeze: Temperatures Drop & Trips to Emergency Rooms Increase

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Emergency room doctors have had their hands full with weather-related injuries.

The wind chill Monday night was downright dangerous, feeling like it's about 20 degrees below zero.

"We've had a steady stream of last-minute shoppers in here, so people are braving the cold and coming out today," Linda McConnell, Owner of Basket Bowtique, said.

The bitter cold, the icicles and the snow didn't stop some from heading out.

"I've kind of made my body immune to the cold," said Lynn Perrego as he worked outside in Downtown Cedar Rapids.

Not everyone, however, was immune.

"It has been crazy with the weather-related injuries," St. Luke's Emergency Room Doctor Donald Linder, said.

Emergency rooms in Cedar Rapids are full.

"We've had so many orthopedic injuries -- people falling," Dr. Linder said.

"Especially with this recent storm and all of the ice. It's very, very common to see a lot of falls," said Mercy Medical Center Emergency Room Doctor Matt Kemp.

Doctors at St. Luke's estimate at least 20 people a day have tumbled on icy roads, sidewalks and driveways in the last five days. Those falls have landed them in the Emergency Room.

"It's just one after another. We are almost guessing what the injury is. Because it's fall after fall after fall," Dr. Linder said.

The temperatures are also playing a part in the rush.

"We've had hypothermia, just exposure, people staying outside longer. We've had frostbite of the feet," Dr. Linder said.

On a night like Monday night, doctors said to stay inside, if possible. If you must go out, they suggest not staying in the cold longer than about ten to twenty minutes.

"Make sure all of your skin is covered, anything, just cover, cover the face but try to limit it as much as possible. Even more than 20 minutes you can get frostbite when it's this cold," Dr. Kemp said.

Doctors say the elderly and children especially have a hard time in the cold.

E.R. doctors are anxious to get this message out as Christmas parties get underway. Alcohol can make people unaware of how cold they are, making it more likely they'll get hypothermia or frostbite.

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