Monday, January 21, 2013

How Wind Chill Works

"Wind chill" is a term that is tossed around a lot this time of year, but have you ever wondered what it actually means and why we still use temperature if the wind chill makes it feel colder?

Let's start with how wind chill actually works and its affects on people. The human body produces its own heat and normally does a pretty good job regulating it. When the weather turns cold, though, winds can displace that heat away from the body, causing the body to cool faster than normal. If the body becomes too cool, major problems can ensure, including hypothermia, frostbite, and even death.

The temperature is still important because an object (in this case, the body) can never become cooler than the actual temperature, but that same object cools at a rate equal to the wind chill.

The National Weather Service has a chart that shows the wind chill and how you can calculate it using current temperatures and wind speeds. It even shows how fast frostbite can set it given the conditions. According to the chart, frostbite would set in after just 30 minutes for someone who is exposed to tonight's brutal cold conditions.

Here are some tips to stay safe during this extreme cold:

-         Bundle up: Make sure to wear clothes that keep you dry and block the wind from cooling you off. Make sure to cover your head to prevent further heat loss.

-         Keep an eye on children and the elderly: These groups are especially sensitive to the cold. Just make sure they’re prepared for the cold. The same goes for pets. You might consider bringing outdoor pets in tonight for their own safety.

-         Know the signs of cold-related illnesses: This includes shivering, redness of the skin, or physical pain followed by numbness.

My personal advice? I heard Florida is pretty nice this time of year... stay safe, everyone! -BA

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