Exposure to the cold can be deadly. Even 30 minutes outside without the proper gear can have devastating effects and it's keeping first responders across the Triad busy this week.
First responders are heading into yet another night of below-freezing temperatures.
“People are not accustomed to this length of cold weather in North Carolina," said Capt. Shane Moore, with Forsyth County EMS.
Crews in Forsyth and Guilford counties are dealing with a high call volume this week for burst pipes, house fires, carbon monoxide alarms and other emergencies. EMS crews told us the cold is behind lots of those calls.
“We did have a decent number of call outs for environmental-related calls, you know people being outside, falling, that sort of thing, people that have fallen, been outside in the cold for a while, hypothermic," said Sgt. Zach Gootman, with Forsyth County EMS.
In Greensboro, firefighters responded to about 50 percent more calls this week.
"It’s extremely dangerous to be out in these frigid temperatures," said Lt. Jimmy Golden, with the Greensboro Police Department.
Hospitals are seeing effects of the cold too. Cone Health officials told us there was a spike in treated sinus and upper respiratory infections this week.
Some of those cases are just seasonal illnesses, but EMS crews say those sicknesses tend to happen more often when it's this cold and it doesn't take much time to catch something worse.
“Hypothermia is always a concern, when you stay out in temperatures this low for that prolonged amount of time," Golden said. "The hypothermia, frostbite can set in and have devastating effects. It can cost them their life.”
It can only take 30 minutes for those symptoms to set in -- like cold tingly or stinging fingers and toes, or a chill so cold you start to feel warm.
“Once you get to a certain point, you no longer realize that you’re in trouble," Moore said.
That's when first responders say it's time to just stay inside.
“Honestly in conditions like this, that’s the best thing. If everyone could just go home and stay warm," Gootman said.