Winter Weather Awareness Day is November 18, 2009. This is a unique opportunity for us all to consider how prepared we are for the hazards that come with winter weather. As a part of our continuing efforts to prepare Johnson County for a variety of hazards, we will be running a series of updates about Winter Weather preparedness over the next couple of days.
Today, we want to share information about wind chill, frostbite, and hypothermia. According to the National Weather Service, the following definitions are true:
Wind Chill -- Wind chill is not the actual temperature, but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill; however cars, plants and other objects are not.
Frostbite -- Frostbite is damage to the body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20° Fahrenheit (F) will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.
Hypothermia -- Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. It can kill. For those who survive, there are likely to be lasting kidney, liver, and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Take the person's temperature. If below 95°F, seek medical care immediately!
For more information about winter weather preparedness, please visit www.jocoem.org.