According to the National Weather Service, wind chill is the sensation of air temperature based on actual air temperature and wind speed. Wind chill is not the actual temperature, but it does indicate our risk of frostbite.
Check out this table to see how quickly you run the risk of frostbite:
Arctic air, along with strong winds, can lead to dangerously cold wind chill values. People exposed to extreme cold are likely to frostbite in a few minutes.
The areas most prone to frostbite are the uncovered skin and extremities, such as the hands and feet. The best way to avoid hypothermia and frostbite is to stay warm and dry inside and out.
When you need to go out, wear several layers of loose, light, warm clothing. The air trapped between the layers will insulate you. Remove diapers to avoid sweating and cold.
Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Wear a hat because much of your body heat can be lost through your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the extreme cold. Mittens that fit snugly around the wrist are better than gloves. Try to stay dry and sheltered from the wind.
Hypothermia is another threat during extreme cold. Here’s how to dress in freezing weather. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
Essential tasks after the warm-up
- Check your pipes: Your pipes may be frozen. Water lines on exterior walls and in cold-prone areas, such as basements, attics, and under kitchen cabinets, freeze most often. The water expands as it freezes, causing the pipes to burst. If they are frozen, turn on the tap first. The water will drip off when you heat the pipes. Heat the pipes using a radiator, heating pad, electric hair dryer, or hot water on a cloth. Never use an open flame. Continue until the water pressure returns to normal or call a plumber if you have more problems.
- Salt your aisles: Once it has warmed up enough to go outside, it is important to shovel snow from your sidewalks and driveway, or sprinkle with salt if there is ice. If there is a thick layer of snow on the ground that you cannot move, salt the area so that the snow melts. You should also put salt if there is ice on your stairs leading to your house – less than a quarter of an inch of ice can be dangerous!
- Call your neighbors: Check that your neighbors are well after the storm, especially the elderly, the disabled or other people living alone. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a leading cause of death after storms, especially during power outages. The cases of frostbite and hypothermia are also common for older people who were stuck in their homes.
- Recharge your supplies: This storm may be over, but there could be another one soon. Every storm is different, so it’s important to always be prepared.