PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As of Monday evening, Allegheny General Hospital hadn’t seen any frostbite or hypothermia during this cold snap.

But Dr. Paul Porter, director of emergency medicine, says people need to be careful about what they wear.

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He says to avoid cotton undershirts. “There’s an old saying, I did Arctic infantry in the military, that cotton kills and there’s truth to that,” said Dr. Porter.

He says you should dress in layers with newer fabrics that wick moisture away from your body. Cotton, unfortunately, traps the moisture next to you.

“It’s when you get wet and cold that you get even more vulnerable,” he says.

He also says unless you’re required to wear steel toe work boots for a job, a construction site for instance, he recommends avoiding steel toe boots.

“It’s the day to leave those at home and wear insulated boots,” said Dr. Porter. He says the steel keeps the cold in. “And keeps it up against your skin.”

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Of course, he says to wear a hat because you lose so much heat through your head.

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“Your mom was right!” he said with a smile.

He says it’s important to keep your skin covered to avoid frostbite.

“The first stage of that is when your skin gets red and even a little bit painful and even starts to itch,” Dr. Porter said.

And he says you should know the symptoms of hypothermia.

“You get cold and you start to shiver and when you’re really advanced in it, you stop shivering,” said Dr. Porter. “Finally, you get confused.”

He says 15 minutes outside in this weather is long enough for a kid or elderly person to become hypothermic.

He also says drink hot coffee or tea before you go outside. It’s not just psychological, but it actually warms up your core, according Dr. Porter.

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On the other hand, he says alcohol is something to avoid.

David Highfield