It’s 33 degrees outside, but after you factor in the wind, it actually feels like it’s 22 outside. This ‘feels like’ temperature is called wind chill and it can play a big role in dropping your body temperature to dangerously low levels. That’s why it’s always important to wear layers and cover up any exposed skin when you head outdoors in the cold.
It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for when stuck in these windy and cold conditions to make sure that you don’t end up with life threatening health issues.
“Wind chill takes cold and makes it much, much worse. Anyone who is from West Texas knows that if it’s 25 degrees with a 30 mph wind it is very, very miserable around here. We get that a lot particularly being up on the Caprock at altitude here.”
The average body temperature is at 98.6 degrees. What many people don’t realize is that it only takes a two to four degree drop in temperatures for hypothermia to occur, and the West Texas wind greatly increases the likelihood of this occurring.
“You’ve gotta keep those extremities covered.”
That’s where you are going to lose the most heat. Symptoms like your fingers and toes starting to tingle or go numb, uncontrollable shivering, or becoming disoriented or confused are all signs of winter weather health issues and just like heat-related illnesses, certain age groups are more susceptible to developing frostbite and hypothermia.
“The colder it is, the winder it is, the wetter it is, it increases the risk of hypothermia and frostbite dramatically. Again, like everything in health it’s the extremes of age. The elderly, the very very young have much more trouble controlling their body temperature than normal adults. If you’re feeling cold and you’re shivering it’s probably time to get somewhere or at least get covered up.”
And if you absolutely have to be in cold and windy conditions, there is one important thing to remember.
“The big thing is layers, layers, and more layers. You can always take clothes off, but it’s hard to put clothes on if you don’t have them.”