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Several fans treated for hypothermia at the fourth-coldest game in NFL history

A Kansas City Chiefs fan holds a sign during the AFC Wild Card Playoffs between the Miami Dolphins and the Chiefs on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
Jamie Squire
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Getty Images
A Kansas City Chiefs fan holds a sign during the AFC Wild Card Playoffs between the Miami Dolphins and the Chiefs on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

The wild card playoff game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins took a dangerous turn Saturday when dozens of people were treated by emergency personnel for symptoms caused by frigid temperatures.

The Kansas City Fire Department said a total of 69 people called from the stadium — about half with weather-related conditions — before and during the game. Fifteen were transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

"Seven of those were for hypothermia symptoms, three were for frostbite symptoms, and five were for various other medical issues," said KCFD Battalion Chief Michael Hopkins.

The kickoff temperature was marked at 4 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of -27 degrees, making the game the fourth-coldest in NFL history, according to the Chiefs Communications Twitter account.

The Kansas City metro area has been "plunged into the deep freeze with below zero temperatures for much of the past weekend," according to a news release from the University of Kansas Health System.

In the week since Jan. 9, at least 59 patients have been treated for weather-related problems, the health system reported. Eleven of those were frostbite cases, with nine admitted to the Burnett Burn Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypothermia sets in when the body loses heat faster than it can create due to exposure to very cold temperatures for lengthy periods. Warning signs include shivering, confusion, memory loss, and slurred speech.

Frostbite is characterized by a loss of feeling and color in the affected area, usually the face, hands or feet. It can permanently damage the body, the CDC says.

The coldest NFL game on record was in December 1967 in what became known as the Ice Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys (the Packers won that championship game 21-17 on Bart Starr's quarterback sneak on final possession). The temperature was recorded at -13 Fahrenheit with a -48 wind chill, according to the NFL.

According to an Associated Press report, the game was so cold that a referee's whistle stuck to his lips and tore off a piece of skin, and many players said they were sensitive to the cold for years afterward.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 16, 2024 at 11:00 PM CST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said that 69 people called with weather-related conditions. In fact, about half of those calls were weather-related.
Diba Mohtasham