Thermal imagery camera reveals how quickly frostbite can happen - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Thermal imagery camera reveals how quickly frostbite can happen

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(01/07/14) - You might try to venture out to shovel the driveway, and even though its not as cold as Monday at this time, exposing your skin to the cold temperatures can lead to permanent damage.

Frostbite can occur if in just a few minutes when it's this cold.

Gloves and hats are necessities in this type of weather, but don't forget to cover your face if you head out Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

"This is a thermal imagery camera, we use it for search and rescue," said Kevin O'Brien, of the Saginaw Township Fire Department.

It's a camera that many fire departments have on hand to help rescue people from fires and find the source of fires in a home.

"Whatever glows bright white is warmer, and whatever is dark, black or gray is cooler," O'Brien said.

There would be a lot of black or gray if we were able to focus the camera on the people braving the very cold weather.

Even if you think you are going to be outside for a few minutes, O'Brien and Brian Wolpert, also of the Saginaw Township Fire Department, say frostbite can occur quickly.

"If you have exposed skin, you can get frostbite in five minutes," O'Brien said.

To demonstrate, they are using that thermal imagery camera. Inside a heated garage, no problems. The moment we step outside in below zero weather, but out of the strong wind, certain parts of the body begin to cool down rapidly.

"See how he is turning dark? Now his cheeks are starting to turn dark, his nose is 46-45, he has been cooling down, it's been about a minute," O'Brien said.

You can see on the camera how Wolpert's nose turns darker, along with his fingers.

"Your nose, your ears, your fingers are very susceptible to frostbite," O'Brien said.

Wolpert serves on the ice rescue team, whose members closely watch each other so they aren't exposed to the cold too long, and he advises everyone to do the same.

"Probably a matter of minutes to get frostbite," he said. "Make sure everything is covered up, go out there, and if you feel fatigued, get inside and warm up."

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