When trying to decide how to dress in the winter, the first thing we usually check is how cold it is outside. But without factoring in the wind chill, the temperature alone can leave one unprepared for the worst of winter days.
The wind chill, quite simply, is how cold people (and animals) feel when they are outside. When the wind blows across the exposed surface of our skin, it draws heat away from our bodies, driving down internal body temperatures. The faster the wind, the more it draws heat away.
The concept of wind chill originated with two Antarctic explorers named Paul Siple and Charles Passel. The duo measured how wind speed affects the rate of heat loss by filling a plastic container with water, hanging it from a pole and measuring how quickly the water turned to ice. The faster the wind was blowing, the quicker the water turned to ice.
So if it’s 30 degrees outside, but the wind is blowing at 30 mph, it will feel like it’s about 15 degrees out. If it’s 0 degrees out and the wind is blowing 20 mph, it will feel like it’s 22 degrees below zero. (It’s worth noting that wind chill does not affect inanimate objects, so you don’t need to worry about your pipes or your radiator on days that you do have to worry about yourself.)
Once you determine how wind chill will affect how you will feel outside, the question is how to prepare for it. Make sure to cover your fingers, toes, ear lobes and nose. Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing and outer garments that are tightly woven and water repellent. Even though scientists have debunked Mom’s age-old warning that most of your body’s heat is lost through the head, it’s obviously still a good idea to wear a hat.
There’s been a lot of chatter in recent years about doing away with the wind chill index altogether. The argument is that wind chill does not take into effect how the sun makes us feel warmer. Nor does it consider that wind is usually a constantly changing variable throughout the day. Lastly, wind chill affects each of us differently, depending on our height and weight.
Basically, the argument goes, stop being such a wimp and use common sense. You don’t need a wind chill index to know that it’s a really cold day.
Whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t hurt to pay a little extra attention to the weather, including the wind chill, during the peak of winter. This is especially important if you are sending kids out to the bus stop, expect to be outside for a long time or just want to be prepared for the worst.
Sometimes, no matter how careful we are about our health, winter can leave us with colds that turn into sinus infections or back injuries from slips on the ice. Contact us today if you need help overcoming the worst of the winter. Same-day appointments are available by calling 419-660-2900. And remember, spring is just around the corner.