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ST. LOUIS — A doctor from a hospital burn unit has a warning about just how dangerous this winter blast is getting in the Midwest: taking chances in cold this severe can be like playing with fire.

“Frostbite is like a burn,” Dr. Jonathan Pollack of the Mercy Hospital Burn Center in St. Louis said. “We treat it in the burn center, especially the most severe cases of frostbite… you will see progression to blisters or even areas that are blue or very inflamed.”

Frostbite requires medical attention.

Dr. Pollack said in near or below zero temperatures, it can set in within 30 minutes or less.

“If our hands or feet get cold, or nose or face, keep an eye on that; any numbness in those areas, immediately get yourself to a warmer area,” he said.

Workers putting up a new tree challenge course in Creve Coeur Lake Park for the past month don’t doubt him. They were working Friday afternoon in conditions much worse than when the project began.

They’re building a new addition to the Go Ape tree course and doing maintenance work on the existing structures to get ready for opening day, March 6.

They leave little exposed skin and keep extra “changes” of socks and gloves.

“We also have hand warmers for everybody,” Go Ape Site Manager Chris Farrar said. “We take pretty frequent breaks back in our building. It’s unavoidable to be outside but we can usually do it for short stints.”

They are supposed to work again Saturday but with below zero wind chills and single-digit high temperatures possible Sunday and Monday Farrar said the work will have to wait.