Packers and Fans Brace for Extreme Temps this Weekend

Jan 3, 2014

Packer fans cheer on the team in cold winter weather
Credit LaToya Dennis

Dangerously low temperatures are approaching. Forecasters expect Sunday to blow in with highs around zero, and lows in the double-digits below zero.

Among the people who will be outside in the cold for an extended period of time will be the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers – and the fans huddling at Lambeau Field to watch the playoff game. Chris Decker is director of the emergency department for Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. He says the most common problem he sees is frostbite. Most people don't realize dehydration and alcohol can play a role in people ending up in the emergency room, says Decker.

"If you're not hydrated you can't get blood to the extremities as efficiently as you would as when you're hydrated," Decker says.

According to Decker, alcohol also contributes to dehydration and impairs the body's ability to shiver.

"Shivering is a natural mechanism of the body, that when it recognizes it's getting cold, all the muscles in your body start to shake or shiver...and what that does is that generates heat. And that allows the body to rewarm itself," Decker says.

Decker says people who drink will feel comfortable in cold weather, but as their body temperature drops, their shivering mechanism won't turn on.

He says the extremely cold temps expected for Sunday's game are dangerous, but that shouldn't stop players from putting on a good show.

"It's really about maintaining proper nutrition, maintaining proper hydration...keeping the wind off you, stay as dry as you can and you can perform just as well in very, very cold weather as you can in very hot weather," Decker says.

Decker says that athletes do have to take precautions when off the field to keep themselves warm, hydrated and dry.