GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will not be participating in Ice Bowl II, or anywhere close to it really – which is a great thing for the players and the fans Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Earlier in the week, the actual temperature at game time was predicted to be at zero or below, with wind chills dipping to maybe -40.
As of this posting, it’s about six degrees, and the wind chill shouldn’t drop to Ice Bowl proportion, but it will drop significantly below zero and "that’s cold enough to cause significant damage," said Mary Jo Wiemiller, PA-C, M.S., the Clinical Assistant Professor and Chair at Marquette University’s Physician Assistant Program.
"The important thing for the players and the fans who won’t be moving around as much as the players they have to cover up their skin," she added. "You don’t want to have exposed skin for any length of time."
But what of the players, many of whom say they’ll be playing without sleeves?
"Everybody is a little different," Wiemiller said. "Ten or 15 minutes of exposed skin before it starts causing damage, but the damage is frost bite. And they can cause irreversible damage to their skin.
She said that players aren’t often on the field for 10 minutes or more at a time, and they’ll likely be covered by heavy jackets on the sidelines and can go stand in front of large heaters and sit on a heated bench to keep their core temperature higher.
Wiemiller has some experience as a fan at Lambeau Field as a season ticket holder, and she said fans will have a bigger issue staying safe than the players who are moving around and have blood circulating through their body.
"Fans should go to the atrium and go where there is heat blowing," she said. "And certainly use judgment – don’t allow themselves to become intoxicated so they can continue to monitor themselves, and then watch out for the age extremes, the young children and the elderly who will be at a higher risk."
She said pulling away a face mask or gloves to have a drink of whatever the beverage of choice may be (the Packers are giving away free hot chocolate and coffee to fans) shouldn’t be an issue as long as sensitive skin isn’t exposed to the air for too long.
But the real keys to beating the cold and staying safe on a day like today?
"Keep covered," she said. "And with extreme temperatures and wind chill, people need to watch out for each other. And, just really use good judgment and use caution and help each other out. Watch out for your neighbor."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.