Posted: Jan 24, 2013 10:55 AM by Emily Hauger
Updated: Jan 25, 2013 6:00 PM
COLUMBIA - Cold temperatures are sweeping the nation, and Mid-Missouri is no exception. For those who can't escape the frigid outdoor air, there are important things to keep in mind to protect yourself from the cold.
When temperatures are in the teens or low twenties, like they have been this week, it can take just 30 minutes to get frostbite. Windy conditions can further shorten that amount of time so it is important to keep skin covered.
First, be prepared for winter weather. Make sure you have winter clothing that fits properly and can keep cold out while keeping heat in. One of the most important pieces of winter clothing is a hat, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Humans lose the most amount of body heat from their heads, so it is important to keep heads fully covered with a hat, rather than just earmuffs. Furthermore, make sure the hat fully covers a person's ears as earlobes are very susceptible to frostbite.
The CDC also advises that people dress in many light layers rather than a few heavy layers. The multiple layers allows for heat to stay closer to the body and makes it easier to remove layers if you become too warm. Water and excessive perspiration can cause body temperatures to drop, so it is important to remove layers as soon as you become too warm. A single heavy jacket allows for heat to escape from the body more quickly and does not allow for the removal of layers.
Scarves and facemasks can not only protect your face from the air, but also can keep your lungs from inhaling the dry, cold air.
To keep your hands and arms cold, it is better to warm mittens rather than gloves. Mittens keep your fingers together and allow for them to keep each other warm. Mittens the extend past the wrist are especially good for protecting the gap between clothing and mittens. Finally, wear clothes that are snug at the wrist to keep them from riding up your arm and exposing skin to the air.
What you eat and drink can also impact your body's ability to stay warm in the arctic air. The CDC advises people to eat well-balanced meals. especially in times of extreme cold. Furthermore, drinking sweet, warm beverages, such as hot chocolate, will help your body maintain a warm temperature. Alcoholic beverages will cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
For more tips on winter weather, visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/faq.asp.