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Extreme cold hazards: what wind chill is and how cold can lead to frostbite, hypothermia

Extreme cold hazards: wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia
Tue., Feb. 5: Wind chill is a huge factor when spending time outdoors during cold Prairie winters. But what is it and how does it affect us? Global News meteorologist Tiffany Lizée explains.

If you spend any amount of time outside in the winter, then you know wind can make a cold day bearable or unbearable.

You’ve probably heard meteorologists and weather broadcasters use the term “wind chill” when talking about cold weather.

What wind chill is

The term is used to indicate how cold it feels outside, considering the temperature and wind speed.

The lower that “feels like” temperature is, the quicker frostbite and hypothermia can set in.

The cooling sensation you feel when you’re outside is caused by the breeze evaporating moisture on your skin and drawing heat away from your body.

How wind chill affects you

When you’re outside and the wind chill is more than -30, frostbite can happen in as little as 10 minutes.

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If it feels colder than -40, frostbite can occur within just minutes of being outside.

READ MORE: The three phases of frostbite – from red skin to black skin death

It doesn’t take long for extreme cold to be hazardous or even life-threatening.

Wind chill can cause frostnip and frostbite but also hypothermia because it speeds up the rate at which your body loses heat.

Go to Environment Canada for more information on health hazards from the extreme cold, how you can spot the symptoms and what to do.

WATCH: Keep dry, layer up and limit the time spent outside to avoid frostbite

How to prepare for extreme cold

Follow the weather forecast and be aware of any extreme cold warnings issued by Environment Canada.When going outside, wear layers to avoid the health hazards mentioned above.Boots should be waterproof, and it’s recommended that people wear two or three layers of pants and shirts.And protect exposed skin with gloves, a tuque and a scarf.Watch below: How to dress for cold weather
How to dress for cold weather
How to dress for cold weather

To stay updated with radar and weather alerts in your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

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