How Long Can You Stay out in This Cold Weather?

This blog is a follow up to my previous one.  Earlier, I spoke how wind chill readings represent the \"real feel\" temperature.  In this discussion, I want to stress how dangerous cold can be to your body. 

In colder weather, you shiver to produce heat in your muscles.  You typically need to urinate more as well.  Cold exposure reduces blood flow to the skin's surface and decreases the overall volume your body can hold.  your body responds by getting rid of liquid, say the experts.

Fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of your nose are the areas most susceptible to frostbite.  Symptoms of frostbite include a loss of feeling and lack of color.  Anyone showing these signs should seek medical attention right away.  Just to put things into perspective, consider this.  At a temperature of 0°F and a wind of 15 mph, the wind chill reading is -19°F.  Under these conditions, frostbite can happen in 30 minutes.  When the wind chill temperature is close to negative 60 degrees, exposed skin can freeze in 10 minutes. 

Extreme cold can also cause hypothermia.  This is when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  Warning signs include loss of memory, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and exhaustion.  It's interesting to point out, hypothermia can happen at any temperature lower than normal body temperature.  If you fall into water, the situation can become even worse.  The Coast Guard says if you fall into freezing (32°) water, you might not survive more than 30 minutes, and you could even undergo shock within just a few minutes. 

To keep warm, the experts recommend a couple of things, including wearing an underlayer, consisting of thermal or silk.  Next should be a waterproof layer followed by a heat-retaining layer.  Wool is great for this.  Make sure to protect the outer extremities with something waterproof.  Also remember if you've been exposed to the cold, try to warm gradually.  This cuts down on extra shock to your body. 


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