April 18, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
57°F

Questions about extreme cold answered

What is “wind chill” temperature?

It is the temperature it “feels like” outside and is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate causing the skin temperature to drop. Wind chill does not impact inanimate objects such as car radiators and exposed water pipes, because these objects cannot cool below the actual air temperature.

What does this mean?

A wind chill warning is issued when wind chill temperatures are life-threatening. A wind chill advisory is issued when wind-chill temperatures are potentially hazardous.

What is frostbite?

Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing body tissue. The most susceptible parts of the body are the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Medical attention is needed immediately for frostbite. The area should be re-warmed slowly to prevent injury.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature — below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If it is not available, begin warming the body slowly.

What can people do to protect themselves?

The obvious: If possible, don’t go outdoors.

If you must go out, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers provide added insulation.

Outer garments should be tightly woven, water-repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat, because 40 percent of body heat is lost from the head.

Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.

Covering the mouth can protect lungs from extreme cold.

Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

Source: National Weather Service

For more information on ways to protection against extreme cold weather, visit the National Weather Service Wind Chillweb page at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ornlwindchill.

For more Information on cold-related health problems and outdoor safety, visit the website of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp.