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Friday, January 14, 2022

With lows in single digits, keep covered, Day says:
Deep freeze: Bills fans urged to  layer up for Saturday playoff game

By BRIAN QUINN-bquinn@batavianews.com

If you’re going to be at Highmark Stadium this Saturday night when the Bills take on New England in an AFC Wild Card game and you normally go shirtless, you’ll want to keep your shirt on.

All fans who show up for the 8:15 playoff game should remember to wear a few extra layers, said Dr. Dan Day, Rochester Regional Health orthopedic and sports medicine specialist.

Day was asked during a Zoom call Thursday with the media about concerns over frostbite and exposed skin.

“Certainly, with fans, that’s probably where the bigger concern is, I would say,” he said. “Certainly, some people are thinner, so they don’t have as much body mass. That increases exposure to cold,” he said. “Some come unprepared. They’re not really wearing the gear that they need to. There’s a lot of good gear out there and if they gear up correctly, they can really protect themselves.”

When you factor in things such as alcohol and nicotine, Day said, those can affect the body’s response to cold.

Alcohol and nicotine increase the chance of injury from frostbite and frostnip probably more than hypothermia, Day said.

“They’re (fans) going to have ways to get warm, whether they seek shelter or head back to the car. That’s really just keeping things covered — skin covered, so that it’s not exposed,” he said.

A National Weather Service forecast discussion Thursday on the NWS Buffalo website said highs Saturday will be in the high single digits to low teens across Western New York. The NWS forecast says the low will be 3 degrees in the Buffalo area. Wind chills will reach their lowest tonight through Saturday morning from a combination of falling temperatures and some wind. Across Western New York, wind chills may be as cold as minus 10 to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit close to the lakes and minus 15 to minus 20 across the interior.

“Lots of layers, ski jackets, even insulated pants, heated gloves, all those things are going to be very beneficial,” he said. “When you can sneak back into the stadium, when you can get some coverage, or get into the bathroom that might be heated, that could give you at least a little bit of a break to warm up and then go back out.”

If that doesn’t help you keep warm, the orthopedic and sports medicine specialist, said, it may be time to leave the stadium and head for your vehicle.

Alcohol consumption decreases a person’s shivering response, Day said.

“It eliminates the bodies protection against cold. The shivering will help keep you warm,” he said. “You may feel like you’re warm. Alcohol may mute that and it’s also affecting your body and how it deals with the cold.”

Compared to the players, fans have more to worry about on a night expected to be this cold, Day said.

“When you think about NFL players are bigger-bodied, so they have more insulation on there, both fat and muscle, so that’s going to protect them,” he said. “A lot of those guys are going to do just fine because of that and that’s how they can get away with the sleeves.”

Players will be in these conditions Saturday for short periods, Day said.

“Look at the sidelines. They’ve got heated benches, heated helmet holders. They’ve got big coats they can throw on, big hats they can throw on. They go inside for halftime,” he said.

It’s certainly harder to keep hands and feet warm compared to other parts of the body, Day said.

“Those are going to be the most exposed, least blood flow to the area ... so it gets less of the warm blood getting there,” he said. “The frostbite, frostnip starts with more discoloration. You get some whitening through the fingers, then they become a little more glossy, start losing some of that color, forming ice crystals. Those are the signs of your early frostnip, frostbite. Once you start seeing those signs, then you’ve definitely got to seek warmth to make sure that doesn’t progress.”

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