Frigid temps pose dangers

by Bob Grawey
Staff writer
Minnesotans can add “extreme cold warning” to all the other winter weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service during particularly cold, nasty weather.

This new warning is just being experimented with in Minnesota and the Dakotas as a way to warn people of extreme air temperatures when wind chill is not a factor, according to National Weather forecaster Dan Effertz, out of Chanhassen.

By Friday afternoon the temperature had climbed to -6 degrees below zero

“When the actual air temperature goes down to 35 below zero, it would warrant an extreme cold warning,” Effertz explains.

Winds of less than 5 mph have to be in play for the new warning, which was likely to be issued for northeast Minnesota Thursday night into Friday morning, according to Effertz.

A frigid arctic blast will descended into the state leading into the weekend, plunging night time actual temperatures in central and south central Minnesota to the teens and 20s below zero range.

Wind chill was a factor in the area as well, making it feel like 30–35 below zero. The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories for the area in that particular instance.

In such weather hypothermia and frost bite become very real dangers to anyone exposed to extreme temperatures for more than a few minutes.

The Mayo Clinic Web site says the time it takes frost bite to occur varies with each person, depending on a person’s composition, whether or not someone is facing away or into the wind and it depends on what a person is wearing and how they are wearing it.

The Mayo Clinic site claims hypothermia happens when a person’s body loses heat faster than it can produce it and the body temperature drops below 95 degrees.

When the body’s temperature drops, a person’s heart, nervous system and other organs cannot work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia eventually leads to complete heart and respiratory failure.

Signs and symptoms of hypothermia:
•Cool skin
•Slower, irregular breathing
•Slower heartbeat
•Weak pulse
•Uncontrollable shivering
•Severe shaking
•Rigid muscles
•Slurred speech
•Memory lapses

Signs and symptoms of frost bite:
•Paleness of the skin
•Sensation of coldness or pain
•Pain disappears after a while with the freezing of the tissues
•Tissues become increasingly whiter and harder
Source: The Safety Blog on the Safety Services Company Web site.

Tips from Regions Hospital physicians to prevent frost bite and hypothermia:
•Dress in layers of lighter clothing, as they will keep you warmer than one heavy layer. Shed layers as needed.
•Cover your head and hands. A large amount of body heat is lost through the head and hands. Wear a warm hat and gloves to prevent this heat loss. Your body will stay warmer, too. Also wear a warm scarf, boots and an extra pair of socks.
•Eat something healthful and stay active. Digesting food and keeping your body in motion creates internal body heat. Keep moving, but not so much to become overly tired. Fatigue reduces the body’s ability to generate heat.
•Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking in extreme cold temperatures.

Comments Closed