BUTTE – Butte’s ER has been seeing people with frostbite and minor cases of hypothermia during the recent cold snap and they are prepared for more cases as temperatures drop well below zero by this weekend.
“We typically can fix in the ER with warm blankets and this thing called a bear-hugger, some warm IV fluids. A lot of these folks can go home once they’re warmed up,” said St. James HealthCare ER Physician Dr. David Silk.
People should dress for the coming cold weather, avoid exposing skin to the elements and avoid drinking too much alcohol during the severe cold.
“Sometimes related to alcohol use, it kind of impairs your judgment, you don’t feel the cold as much,” said Silk.
Butte is still waiting for the Rescue Mission’s new shelter to be finished. Fortunately, the ER at St. James Healthcare has not reported any fatalities to the homeless due to exposure.
“It’s amazing we don’t see more of that, but we do see some of that where they’re exposed to cold and hypothermia,” said Silk.
Sometimes during these extreme cold snaps, Butte police have no choice but to use the detention center as a temporary shelter to help people get out of the cold.
“I think it was last weekend I was called to see if we could get somebody in the detention center because they had no other place to go and it was freezing out and we did that and released him the next day and got him a place to stay,” said Butte Undersheriff George Skuletich.
Common sense is the best defense against extreme cold.
“Cover up is the main thing, and when it’s super cold, minus 20, you just need to stay inside,” said Silk.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News