Frostbite is a common problem in a state where it often hits below zero temperatures. Paramedic Kourtney Williams says they’ve seen a few bad cases within the last couple of weeks.

“Especially in the mid-west, our temperatures drop quite significantly and it varies day to day,” says Williams.

The beginning stage of frostbite is called frostnip, but the longer you are outside, the larger the risk of frostbite. There are two different types of frostbite, superficial and deep.

“Your skin starts to get pale, it can kind of start to get blue, you might develop blisters over a time period, but it is just affecting that surface layer skin,” says Williams on the symptoms of superficial frostbite.

“Your fingers can start to turn blue, grey, black, maybe red a little at first and progress really quickly and start to get tissue death–that can lead to amputation,” says Williams on the symptoms of frostbite.

The lower the temperature is, the more dangerous being outside becomes. Meteorologist Amber Wheeler says it’s important to know the daily forecast and plan accordingly.

“It’s not something you can just see happening and sometimes you don’t feel it happening. That’s why you need to pay attention to the numbers,” says Wheeler.

Amber explained that you can get frostbite in 10 mins or less with temperatures of 50 below. One way to prevent frostbite in intense winter weather is to check the windchill, which is how cold it’ll feel when you walk outside

“15 below temperature with a 20 mph wind, gives you 42 below windchills and you can have frostbite in 30 mins or less with that number,” says Wheeler.

Have extra winter gear? Give it to someone in need. Metro EMS has pantries set up throughout the city of Bismarck.

“It’s not just for food, you can leave gloves, hats, hand warmers, anything that might help the less fortunate that might not have heat every day. I think they would appreciate it,” says Williams.

The pantries are located at METRO EMS locations in Mandan, south and east Bismarck. Essential items to have during the winter months are winter gloves, scarves, hats, socks, and a coat.