What Wind Chill Means for You
The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold. 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.
To prevent frostbite or hypothermia, avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia. When caught in a winter storm outside, find shelter, try to stay dry, and cover all exposed parts of the body.
If You Can't Find Shelter
- Prepare a lean-to, wind-break, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
- Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
- Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
- Do not eat snow: It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
If You Are Stranded in a Car or Truck
- Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers.
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
If You Are At Home or In a Building
- Stay inside. When using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. Use fire safeguards and make sure it is properly ventilated.
If You Do Not Have Heat
- Close off unneeded rooms.
- Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
- Cover the windows at night.
- Make sure you eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.