Wind chill: Gusts spread winter pain

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Prevention is the key to Hypothermia and Frostbite – both are avoidable with appropriate preparation and behavior.

Hypothermia – lowered body temperature. This can be cuased by frozen moisture, hunger, exhaustion, dehydration, or insufficient clothing.  

Mild Hypothermia – In this state you will shiver and be completely preoccupied (as you should be) with rewarming yourself. As your muscles cool you will lose coordination and become clumsier; you may start to lag behind the group; become cranky or distant (known as the "umbles": stumbles, mumbles, fumbles).

Remember to watch for these signs in other participants!

Treatment of mild Hypothermia – rewarm as soon as possible by any convenient means (eat, drink, put on more clothes, run around)!

Profound Hypothermia – this is a medical emergency. Your body temperature has fallen below 90F (32C) and you are incapable of rewarming yourself. At this stage your brain begins to cool and ceases to function normally. You are at risk of ventricle fibrillation (i.e., heart attack) if your friends rough handle you, re-warm you too quickly or cause you to physically exert yourself! Don’t let yourself get this cold!

Frostbite – the freezing of body tissue. Frostbite is caused by sub-freezing temperatures in combination with vasoconstriction – reduced circulation to the extremities. Dehydration, certain drugs (including caffeine, nicotine and THC), hypothermia, and constrictive (tight) clothing or boots, and genetic disposition all contribute to poor circulation.

Avoid contact with metal objects and liquids such as fuels and alcohol that are super cooled (below freezing). Touching these items can instantly freeze your flesh (yuck)!

Frostbite usually affects extremitiesProtect your sensitive parts with mittens, windproof underwear, windproof hats, face masks, etc. Thawing frozen parts is difficult and should only be attempted if you can assure the parts will not freeze again. Thawing should be done in a warm water bath between 100F and 108F (38C to 42C). Too often people burn themselves when trying to re-warm frostbite.

Frostbite is differentiated from the less serious and superficial frostnip by the black and or purple color and blisters that appear as frozen tissue thaws.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- It's not the heat, it's the humidity, goes the old saying.

For the tens of millions of Americans currently trapped in the deep freeze: It's not the cold, it's the wind.

Air temperatures plunging into the negative teens, twenties and even thirties Sunday into Monday are bad enough. But add wind speeds of even a few miles per hour, and what's already deeply unpleasant becomes downright dangerous.

Severely low wind chills are a serious threat to the body. Emergency room doctor Douglas Brunette from Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis says he's "seen frostbite occur through clothing." He says it's important to have clothes "made for the elements."

Winds are blowing arctic air across large swaths of the U.S. -- with temperatures suppressed by what meteorologists call a "polar vortex."

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