This is one of the coldest winters in years, and staying safe in these freezing temperatures is of the utmost importance. During weather like this, the chances of getting hypothermia are escalated. To put things into good perspective: when temperatures hit 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and the wind is 20 miles per hour or higher, it only takes a few minutes for any exposed skin to become frostbitten. Hypothermia and frostbite are both easier to prevent than to treat.
The key to protecting against subzero temperatures is layering.
If you’re going outside, wool, silk or fleece layers are preferable. Avoid cotton because it doesn’t hold body heat well and doesn’t dry quickly if it gets wet. Also, be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, or wind resistant.
Adults and children should wear:
- a hat (a lot of body heat is lost through the scalp)
- a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- water-resistant coat and boots
- two pairs of socks (wool over cotton)
- several layers of loose-fitting clothing
Shivering is an important early sign that the body is losing heat. If you can’t stop shivering, it’s time to head indoors.